In the spring of 2013, I was selected as one of the six Sea Scouts across the nation to be selected to sail on board the United States Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. The USCGC Eagle is the United States Coast Guard Academy’s training ship. It is used to train the cadets and future officers of the United States Coast Guard. I chose to sail on board the USCGC Eagle because I want a career as an officer in the Coast Guard. It was the perfect opportunity to get hands-on experience on what it’s like being in the Coast Guard.
My mother and I flew from San Francisco, CA to Jacksonville, FL. The next morning, my mother and I drove to Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. I met up with the other Sea Scouts and we took a van over to Naval Station Mayport. We waited about an hour for the ship to dock and for them to rig the brows. We then boarded and got oriented with life on board the USCGC Eagle. As we were pulling out of NS Mayport, I was on line 1. It started raining and the line got waterlogged. When we were pulling the line in, everyone’s face got soaked. After we got into the channel, we had a Search and Rescue call. A boat had capsized. The bridge dispatched a Response Boat from USCG Sector Jacksonville. All of the people were safe, and we stood by to help. We then continued out to sea. We did our “Up and Overs” the first night too. “Up and Overs” is slang for climbing qualifications. This allowed us to climb the rigging. I also stood a helm watch and went to bed.
My first two days underway I was a Mess Cook. I reported to the galley at 0500 and I finished at around 1930 or 2000 each night. My first day as Mess Cook, I was in the Wardroom. I served the food to the officers and cleaned all of Officer’s Country. The second day, I was in the Scullery. I was a runner, ferrying dishes from the Scullery to the Crew Mess. You burned a lot of calories going up and the down the stairs so many times. I also built a high pain tolerance because those dishes were hot coming out of the dishwasher!
After the first two days, I got up with the rest of the crew at 0630 for the first time! I stood CIC Watch from 0800-1200. The CIC (Combat Information Center) is the nerve center of the ship. It has all the information you could want. The CIC has radar, speed, and wind indicators. It even has a list indicator. I think the record was 63 degrees! We only listed about 10 degrees to each side on average. We also plotted our dead reckoning position every 30 minutes.
Later that night, we had our first Engine Room Watch. We stood watch from 2000-2400. In the Engine Room, the MKs (Machinery Technicians) showed us how to bleed air tanks, take soundings, and draw systems. We also learned about the different security conditions the ship could be in and the different fire-fighting methods that were on board.
On the fourth day, my division had engine watch again from 0400-0800. We mainly worked on drawing the bilge system. We also took soundings on the various tanks throughout the ship. The average temperature was 97 degrees, so everyone was sweating. A favorite thing to do was standing under the air conditioning duct for a few minutes. My division got off watch and we went to breakfast. After breakfast, we had Damage Control Training. We learned how to treat traumatic injuries. We had training until lunch. After lunch, we had more Damage Control Training. We learned the different ways you could patch pipes and hull breaches. We then had watch in the CIC from 1600-2000. During our watch, at around 1800, one of our crew members was diagnosed with Appendicitis. She had to be Medevac’d off the ship. Since we were in the CIC, we got to watch the helicopter hoist her out of the small boat a little ways away. We could also hear the radio communications between the helicopter and the ship.
My division had its last watch that morning. We were in the CIC again from 2400-0400. We circled the island throughout the night and then we set Special Sea Detail at 0515. We then made our transit into Hamilton, Bermuda. We manned the rails pulling into Bermuda, and then we went to our mooring stations when we were a couple nautical miles away from the pier. I was on line 1 again. We heaved the line to the pier and put tension on the line once it was on the mooring bit. Mooring took about 10 minutes. We then put the brows over. After we packed up, I said goodbye to my division and thanked them from their hospitality. I also thanked and took a picture with the Captain and XO. The XO also said she was willing to provide me a letter of recommendation to the Coast Guard Academy.
Soon after, I disembarked at met my parents at the pier. We then took a taxi to the airport and flew back to the US. This trip is a fantastic opportunity for all Sea Scouts, especially those looking for a career in the United States Coast Guard. You are thrown into a military environment and you are expected to perform well. I also got a lot of advice from cadets on how to get into the Coast Guard Academy and I still have a lot of the connections I made on board. This is a summer I will never forget!
Boatswain’s Mate, S.S.S. Makai
2013 National Flagship
You can apply for the Eagle Cruise at SeaScout.org