The Polar Star’s engineering department ensures the ship’s mechanical and electrical equipment is working properly, but the harsh conditions of Antarctica provide many challenges for the aging ship, which has been around longer than many of its crew members.
Think of a popular 21st century TV game show and finish the next sentence: “Who wants to be… a________?!” Now replace the missing word ‘Millionaire’ with the word ‘Engineer’ and you’ll basically find an equivalent level of enthusiasm amongst a small enclave of about 50 inner-city ninth and tenth-grade students from two public high schools in Providence, Rhode Island.
Engineering (CG-ENG10) is a specialty designation for positions and officers. Officers with this designation have demonstrated progress toward any of the engineering subspecialties through education, experience, and PQS completion.
Without them, the ship goes nowhere. The 93 members of the engineering department aboard Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star are responsible for the propulsion, steering, electrical, sewage, ventilation, firefighting and damage control systems on board the heavy icebreaker supporting the U.S. Antarctic Program through Operation Deep Freeze 2015.
The facilities engineering division – a team of more than 30 – provides preventative and corrective maintenance support to the 72-acre facility, the Coast Guards largest operational unit, which includes two remote operating locations in Great Inagua and Andros Island, Bahamas. The facilities engineering division recently earned The Cowart Award, presented for outstanding contributions from a Coast Guard civil engineering and shore facility management program.
Pre-engineering students at the Providence Career and Technical Academy had the unique opportunity to develop STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – skills in an aquatic robotics design and build competition sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The academy’s Robotics on the Water event is designed to provide a contextual learning opportunity for pre-engineering students at the Providence Career and Technical Academy. In addition to learning more about engineering from Coast Guard cadets, students were mentored by more seasoned engineers from the Coast Guard Civil Engineering Unit Warwick, R.I.
The need for professionals who can both operate and work on highly technical platforms is fundamental to the 21st century Coast Guard. Coast Guardsmen armed with a background in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – are the future operators, inventors and designers behind systems that will be standard across the service. One place where STEM is taking center stage is at the United States Coast Guard Academy.
This year’s ice-breaking season has been a busy one filled with successful missions and a few unexpected challenges. One of the latter was a major electrical failure on board the ice-breaking tug Biscayne Bay, homeported in St. Ignace, Mich. While this would be a lofty challenge to overcome, the centralized depot maintenance – resulting from modernization of the Coast Guard’s Surface Forces Logistics Center – repaired Biscayne Bay in a record 44 days.
As family, friends, coworkers and students gathered on the gun deck of Taylor Hall at Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown, many did not know that they’d be witnessing Coast Guard history. While three people were advanced to master chief petty officer that day, the advancement of Jennifer Lowden was particularly notable. Standing on the same grounds where she was a 25-year-old machinery technician student, Lowden became the first female to join the highest ranks in her profession when her husband and her mother impressed the master chief insignia onto her shirt collar.
Dismantling, removing and replacing a cutter’s main diesel engine is a job requiring teamwork, logistical coordination and planning under the best of circumstances. Replacing both engines at once doubles the complexity. Doing an unscheduled dual engine swap is a unique challenge the crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Edisto and engineers from Sector San Diego recently tackled.