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Nautical Science Curriculum

The following courses are part of the core academic curriculum of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, in preparation for your first Coast Guard job as a commissioned officer. Cadets take a semester of nautical science each academic year.

Fundamentals of Navigation

Fundamentals of Navigation is an exploration of the basic principles of Earth’s characteristics and terrestrial navigation for which a Deck Watch Officer or entry-level officer will be responsible. The goal is to prepare you to serve as a navigation team member during the 3/c summer training program on EAGLE or another cutter in the fleet. Labs include training in the part-task ship simulator, a visit to the Mystic Seaport Planetarium, and an underway voyage on the Training Vessel (T/V) Shuman.

Applications in Navigation

This course builds upon Fundamentals of Navigation and the experiences of 3/c summer. The goal is to introduce the concept of relative motion plotting to aid in preventing collisions at sea, and to build proficiency in voyage planning and as a navigation team member. This course culminates with cadets preparing and presenting a Navigation Brief to a panel of officers from across the Academy, preparing you not only for graduation but also for next summer’s Coastal Sail Training Program.

Maritime Watch Officer

The Maritime Watch Officer explores knowledge and skills vital to successful performance as an Ensign. This course introduces new watch team skills, including electronic charting, RADAR, and using the bridge-to-bridge radio. Classroom discussions are reinforced and applied in the ship simulators and underway on the training vessels within a watch team construct. Team Coordination Training concepts are analyzed in group projects, where cadets investigate Coast Guard Cutter mishaps.

Professional Maritime Officer

This capstone course integrates previous nautical science topics to prepare cadets to pass the National Maritime Center approved licensing examination. Lab assignments in the ship simulators and aboard 65-foot training vessels develop critical thinking and decision-making skills in navigation and ship handling, while also reinforcing Bridge Resource Management concepts through effective leadership and communication. Upon completion of this course and successfully passing the final examination, cadets will be eligible to apply for a Master – 100 Gross Tons Near Coastal license.

Directed Studies in Professional Maritime Studies (Elective)

Cadets are also encouraged to use their free electives to further their professional studies. Options include research into cutter, sector or aviation operations. Specific course content will vary based upon emerging and relevant navigation, training or leadership issues, institutional and organizational needs, and students’ interests.

Sponsor Family Application

Thank you for submitting your application to be part of the Sponsor Family Program. Your application will be processed in the upcoming week. Coast Guard Academy’s policy on background screening now requires all adults (everyone 18 and older living in the home) who volunteer to mentor, teach, coach or sponsor cadets, whether on or off Coast Guard Academy grounds, to be screened every 5 years. They are required to provide personal information (name, birth date and social security number) for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check.

The Security Officer at the Coast Guard Academy, CWO2 Gina Polkowski, is overseeing this process. Her email is:

Sponsor Family designations fall into several different categories. Below are the guidelines to help you determine how best to meet the background screening requirement:

  1. If you are Coast Guard active duty you do not need to apply for an additional Background Check. You will be vetted through the Coast Guard system by CWO2 Polkowski.
  2. If you are a Civilian working for the Coast Guard you do not need to apply for an additional Background Check. You will be vetted through the Coast Guard system by CWO2 Polkowski.
  3. If you are non-Coast Guard Active Duty, you are required to provide proof of your current security clearance or National Agency Check that is to be emailed by your Command Security Officer (CSO)/ Security Office to CWO2 Polkowski at
  4. If you are non-Coast Guard civilian who has a current security clearance or National Agency check, you are required to provide proof of your current security clearance or National Agency Check that is to be emailed by your Command Security Officer (CSO)/ Security Office to CWO2 Polkowski at
  5. All civilians in the families who are 18 years or older and do not have a security clearance or a National Agency Check are required to be vetted through Mind Your Business, the third party vendor hired by the Coast Guard Academy for the vetting process.

After you complete your application, please e-mail the Sponsor Family Program Coordinator at In your e-mail, you must include the e-mail address and phone number of every adult living in the home. The Sponsor Family Coordinator will then initiate the background check process and you will receive an email with further instructions.

Important things to note:

There is a Sponsor Family Training that is a one-hour training which we ask sponsors to attend once every four years. This training is designed to give you an overview of the program, what is expected of you as a sponsor, and what you can expect from your cadets. This training will also help familiarize you with the cadet regulations onboard CGA. You will be notified via e-mail once the training is scheduled.

The matching process of swabs to families will occur during July and August. Please bear with us and remain flexible through this process. There will be a meet and greet scheduled on Campus, typically in late August. This will give families an opportunity to formally meet their cadet if they have not already done so. Details on this will also be via email.

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