To become a Cutterman in the U.S. Coast Guard, a member must complete five years of sea time. To become a Master Cutterman in the U.S. Coast Guard, a member must complete twenty years of sea time. Senior Chief Petty Officer Sean Twiggs of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf completed 20 years of sea time late in 2016, becoming the newest Master Cutterman in the fleet.
Written by Senior Chief Petty Officer Sean Twiggs, Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf
I have been blessed by the fact that I have met so many inspiring people throughout my time in the Coast Guard. I have learned to pass on my experiences to our next generation of Coast Guardsmen.
When I was a [third class petty officer], my [first class petty officer] from the Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay told me to pass the knowledge down because our people are the future and they need someone to guide them. I hope there are a few people in my Coast Guard who I have helped along the way.
Being on the open ocean, seeing the phosphorescence at night in total darkness, breaking ice in McMurdo Sound, or swimming at the Marianas Trench are some of the things you will never forget. But, they are small consolations because we are underway and that means being away from your loved ones at home. We spend tremendous energy in preparing to get underway, but, as soon as we are underway we start the countdown clock. We love being out here in the deep blue but our hearts and minds are always wanting to get home to our loved ones.
I applaud all the people who will make the sacrifice to Cutterman, but Master Cutterman is in a realm by itself. Twenty years is a career, let alone spending that much time at sea. There were incredible sacrifices, both on my part and my family’s part, and I could not have accomplished this without the love and support of my wife, Julie, and my son, Tristan. They have been my foundation and they both deserve more thanks, praise and love than I ever can give them.
“Being a Cutterman takes an enormous amount of dedication and sacrifice,” said Capt. Laura D. Collins, the commanding officer of the cutter Bertholf. “Senior Chief Twiggs definitely embodies those traits, and more, he is devoted to mentoring his shipmates and passing on his knowledge in a very positive way. We are all lucky to sail with him and are so pleased to see him become a Master Cutterman.”