Written by Senior Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Bernice
Reserve force management coordinator
On the southern tip of Los Angeles Harbor’s Terminal Island, after driving through a two-mile sea of stacked containers and straight through the center of a federal correctional institution’s fence-lined campus, you will find Coast Guard Base Los Angeles/Long Beach (LA/LB). From the base, you will find scenic views of San Pedro, Los Angeles Harbor and the busy channel that borders the west side of Terminal Island. Among the Coast Guard units, you will find Station LA/LB. In July, I had an opportunity to spend a few days with the station’s 25 reservists during their two weeks of active duty training (ADT).
Petty Officer 2nd Class Venus Hulst, a boatswains mate at Station LA/LB, described the station’s crew as extraordinarily accommodating and welcoming. This was certainly true of my experience while at the station. Upon arrival, I was immediately greeted by Chief Petty Officer Andrea Tole, Station LA/LB’s senior enlisted reserve advisor (SERA). During our conversations over the next few days, Tole praised the station’s command and active duty crew for their ongoing support of their reserve program, a fact that became more and more evident over the time I spent there. The climate at the station truly supports the idea of duty to people. Petty Officer 3rd Class Tedd Sutton, a boatswains mate at Station LA/LB, agreed.
“The station has been very helpful with family issues,” said Sutton. “They’re also great about assisting with developing individual and common goals, then helping everyone achieve them.”
Achieving success in caring for the members, both for their families as well as helping them attain personal certification goals, helps the station be ready for whatever comes their way. Certification and proficiency readiness is the primary goal of any Coast Guard boat forces job. Many of the reservists at LA/LB hold some level of certification that contributes to the overall productivity of the station. More specifically, of the 25 reservists at LA/LB, there are 12 boatcrew members, two coxswains, four boarding officers and three boarding team members.
During the two-week ADT period, both a boarding officer and a boarding team member received their oral boards, a panel of qualified personnel who tests the knowledge of the person seeking the qualification, and became certified. Other members were able to maintain their law enforcement qualifications by completing currency tasks with the help of their active duty counterparts.
Using certifications to perform missions allows Station LA/LB to remain mindful of Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz’s second guiding principal: be relevant. During their ADT, the station’s reservists completed 36 hours underway (10 of which were at night), 29 boardings (including 11 warnings, two violations and one voyage termination) one search and rescue case and executed a multi-agency security zone for Independence Day fireworks at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. In concert with boats from the Los Angeles and Long Beach Police and Fire Departments, they created and held the security zone perimeter before, during and after the fireworks display. It required communication among the agencies’ assets and a clear understanding of expectations for the mission.
Knowing how to execute Coast Guard missions successfully helps us be responsive. On July 3, while underway on a training mission, a reserve boat crew spotted a sailboat nearing the rocks of the sea wall. As the sailboat began to slam against the rocks, the crew used their training to save the sailboat from any further damage, and they rescued the 81-year-old boat owner from potential injury.
The collaboration among the active and reserve components at Station LA/LB has fueled a completely integrated and mission-oriented approach to training and operations. In support of the high quality training, Station LA/LB had six members who were each awarded six days of additional training periods (ATPs). Over the final weeks of summer, Station LA/LB will pair with Station Channel Islands to conduct a local, six-day coxswain training course, targeting the few remaining skills or tasks needed to qualify at least two additional reserve coxswains.
Station LA/LB seems to have struck the right harmony that balances caring for individuals and their families, supporting high quality training and understanding the importance of hands-on execution of Coast Guard missions. The station’s crew remains ready, relevant and responsive and takes pride in demonstrating these principles.