C0-authored by Lt. j.g. Mike Browning and Lt. Warren Fair.
In the fourth largest container port in the United States and the second busiest port on the East Coast, Marine Safety Unit Savannah maintains high expectations for the personnel stationed in the Coastal Empire.
Petty officers of all ranks are asked to assume responsibilities that may exceed their previous experience and unit personnel are highly motivated to rapidly gain qualifications to be prepared to respond to the myriad of activities occurring in this busy port. From visits from the Vice President of the United States to a fiery explosion at a rubber warehouse at the port authority, MSU stands ready to respond.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Emily Swanson is one of those who stands at the ready. Swanson, a maritime enforcement specialist, reported to MSU Savannah directly from “A” school in the summer of 2013. She immediately integrated into an active enforcement division, quickly qualifying as boarding officer, enforcement duty officer and radiation Level II operator. In addition she took on the responsibilities as the unit armory assistant. Right away she earned the respect and trust of her supervisors with her level of maturity and reliability.
In her normal day-to-day duties as a vessel boarding security team boarding officer, she is called on to board foreign vessels at all hours of the day and night, respond to vessel casualties and perform waterfront security patrols. She must maintain rigorous physical fitness standards and meet stringent weapons qualifications. Swanson interacts with port partners and foreign vessel crewmembers with a calm demeanor, professional attitude and expert knowledge of Coast Guard missions in spite of her young age and junior rank.
The activity level of the enforcement division at the MSU has accelerated in recent months, due in part to the capabilities of the crewmembers to perform these missions. Swanson regularly participates in multi-agency container operations in the local captain of the port zone, which encompasses both Savannah and the Port of Brunswick, Ga. Since her arrival, Swanson has assisted in the inspection of more than 300 containers; conducted more than 30 vessel boardings; and participated in nine multi-agency law enforcement operations, resulting in four arrests, six weapon removals, 300 vehicle searches and seven TWIC violations. She also served on the Vice President of the United States’ security detail, receiving a team award for the level of complexity of the plan.
Swanson has proven to be a high achiever and team player not only while performing Coast Guard duties, but also in service to others and the community. She has volunteered more than 100 hours at a local elementary school, helping tutor and mentor students on a weekly basis. Her ability to assist students struggling in reading and math has been applauded by the school staff and has increased the students’ performance and self-confidence.
In an act of unselfish motivation, Swanson quietly donated 10 inches of her hair to Locks of Love, a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to children who are suffering from long-term medical hair loss. Through her generous donation, she provided some extremely well deserving children the opportunity to receive hair prosthetics and build their self-esteem. She cut her hair without fanfare or attention to herself but, once recognized, she proudly explained to the unit the purpose for her new haircut.
Swanson exemplifies the finest attributes of a devoted Coast Guard teammember. Her selflessness and commitment to helping others is an example of a stellar shipmate to her peers, both junior and senior.