Swab Summer is THREE weeks away. It is crazy to think that in 21 days, I will be training a new class of future officers. I can wait to get started, but in the meantime I have plenty of training myself. This past week, I participated in the summer ship handling program, which trains cadets the basics of seamanship aboard a 40-foot tug boat.
So what do I mean by seamanship? There is a lot that goes into it. For example, have you ever thought about starting a boat vs. starting a car? Unfortunately, turning on large vessels isn’t as easy as turning a key! There is a long checklist that needs to be completed before turning a T-boat on and getting underway. Throughout the week, we practiced other aspects of seamanship including: getting underway from the pier, docking, line handling, dropping anchor, driving the ship on the helm, controlling the throttle, and giving the commands to drive the ship. Most days, we would get underway to get practical experience on the T-boat. Then, in the afternoon, we would learn the theory behind it all, and then we would practice again on our simulators at the Academy. The simulators are cool because you can set up almost any scenario: getting underway, docking, and driving the ship, to name a few. The simulator was pretty cool and was very helpful practice.
That’s the summary of the T-boat program. The coolest part of the week was Wednesday, when my group spent all day underway. We went down to the boat at about 0800, and we were able to start it all by ourselves. Then, our supervising safety officer arrived and we got underway. I had the honor of getting the boat underway, docking it, and getting it underway again! Then, our safety officer threw a life ring overboard and screamed, “man overboard!” I was a little surprised, but I knew what I had to do because we had practiced man overboard drills on the simulator the day before. I had to turn the ship around to circle back to the life ring. Also, I had to be sure to get close enough to the life ring (at a slow speed) without hitting it. Then, we recovered the life ring with a boat hook. The rest of the day, we alternated commanding the cutter, anchoring, and man overboard drills. Around noon, we anchored the T-boat and had a swim call. We had the pleasure of jumping off the side of the boat into the freezing cold water. The water was so cold I could hardly spend a few minutes in it! After the swim call, we had a cookout on the deck and relaxed for a while. Then we got back underway for more practice. Overall, it was an awesome day. I learned a lot from the practical experience, and I enjoyed working with my group.
If you have any questions at all about the Academy, please feel free to email me at Hunter.D.Stowes@uscga.edu. I look forward to hearing from you!
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