This blog post is the 31st in a series of posts highlighting the various specialties and subspecialties offered by the recently launched Officer Specialty Management System.
The Coast Guard’s fleet of cutters is the “Heart of the Service” and the officers who choose to make a career out of going to sea can earn the Operations Afloat specialty code, CG-OAF10. There are three subspecialties of CG-OAF10 which carry their own requirements for particular missions: Aids to Navigation, icebreaking and law enforcement.
Many officers go to sea for their first commissioned tour. What makes someone a “specialist”?
There is no substitute for experience when it comes to cutter operations. The more experience an officer has at sea, the better equipped that officer is to take on additional leadership roles in the cutter fleet. For this reason, the Operations Afloat specialty now requires officers to have 36 months of sea-going experience before they are considered specialists. For most officers, this means they will be eligible for the Apprentice level during their second tour afloat, affirming their desire for an Operations Afloat career path. Pre-commissioning sea time does count toward this 36 month requirement. The Journeyman and Master levels are earned with additional sea time and leadership experience as detailed on the CG-OAF10 Officer Specialty Requirements Form.
A Deck Watch Officer qualification isn’t all you need!
The Deck Watch Officer qualification is the single most important qualification that a cutterman can earn, but there is more to being an Operations Afloat specialist. In order to earn the Apprentice level, officers must complete all training requirements for their assigned billet per the Master Training List, earn a recommendation from their commanding officer to continue serving in the cutter community, as well as meet the sea time and Deck Watch Officer qualification requirements.
“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky…” – John Masefield
The technology on Coast Guard cutters and the nature of operations at sea are constantly changing, so officers must return to a sea-going billet at least once every seven years in order to maintain currency in this specialty. Once you attain the Master level however, the officer specialty code assignment is permanent.
Officers currently assigned CG-OAF10 who do not meet the new 36 month sea-time requirement will have the OSC removed. Officers with between 24 and 36 months of sea-time who are currently stationed afloat, and are reasonably expected to meet the new requirements, will retain the OSC. Any officer whose code is removed may reapply, providing they have met the new requirements for CG-OAF10. Officers who believe they qualify for a higher level should submit an updated Officer Specialty Code application.
Visit the Officer Specialty Management System for more information regarding CG-OAF10.