What does the Coast Guard Auxiliary do anyway?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What does the Coast Guard Auxiliary do? This is a question I once caught myself asking when I was active duty at Sector Seattle. And for the average Coastie out there it’s a question that they too may not be able to answer. So, as today’s educative post I would like to tell you what I know of the Auxiliary, their actions, and their potential.

Article by LT Ryan Erickson, Sector Juneau

Coast Guard Auxiliary Ensign. Photo courtesy of USCG Auxiliary.

A fellow Coastie blogger, Daren Lewis, is a very active member in, and the promotion of, his local Flotilla. I won’t pretend to know exactly what Daren does with his Flotilla, but I can tell you he is active on the water, and serious about his duties- as most members of the Auxiliary are. I only mention him as he’s by far one of the most active Auxiliary members on the web.

As I mentioned I was stationed in Sector Seattle and it was there that I had my first real experiences in working with local Auxiliarists. Now I have be completely honest when I say that I only thought people joined the “so-called Aux” to get free gas and a lunch from the government as there wasn’t much more they could do… right? How wrong I was. Our local Auxiliary unit (I don’t recall the Flotilla, sorry Ms. Chapman) held a position in nearly every department at the Sector including mine, the Vessel Board and Search Team (VBST). On any given day we had at least one person filling the actual position of, or augmenting the Active Duty, as pollution inspectors, vessel inspectors, general staff, and/or planning staff.

Auxiliarists Daren Lewis and John Polimeni train on the Damage Control Trailer. This trailer is used for training on stopping leaks, cracks and other damage to vessels. Photo by Auxiliarist Jonathon James.

This of course doesn’t account for those who were always on the water conducing local Critical Infrastructure patrols (watching for suspicious activity at local waterside facilities), conducting vessel checks, or out helping our local Station with drills. And mind you this was being done seven days a week, unpaid, and with the utmost dedication to duty. And as far as helping with the VBST; the Auxiliary was right along side our Active Duty boats enforcing safety/security zones for several highly visible events (SeaFair and Tall Ships). And though they weren’t Boarding Officer or Tactical Coxwain qualified the operators of these Auxiliary boats became participants as platform operators for armed Boarding Officers, thus making them Coast Guard boats, and doubling our surface asset numbers at these events. I would have to say that the use of these vessels directly influenced the lack of major incidents and the numerous detentions of unsafe boaters.

The Auxiliary vessels train along side active duty crews. Photo by Auxiliarist Daren Lewis.

To further make my point; the Sector employed the use of our Auxiliary personnel in backfilling critical positions in the newly developed and functional Joint Harbor Operations Command (JHOC). As summer rolled around and we were running short on Situation Unit Controllers due to transfer season (say it ain’t so…) it was the service of our Aux members that help operations continue. Though this was generally the job of an OS3-OS1 the Aux folks stepped right in, got through the PQS, and stood watch right next to me as my right hand. Short of being qualified Boarding Officers I don’t think there’s much our Aux couldn’t, or didn’t, do.

So in answering my opening questions, what does the Coast Guard Auxiliary do, I can now reiterate my answer: They can do nearly everything you/I can, and they do it without the paycheck. It would be my suggestion the next time you see a member of the Auxiliary conducting safety checks on local boats, enforcing safety zones, or teaching our children why it’s so important to wear life jackets you let them know how much you appreciate what they’re doing for the public, the Coast Guard, and the Nation. Most will tell you that’s payment enough.

Be sure to check out the official site of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Re-post from U.S. Naval Institute Blog.

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  1. Patti Fritchie says:

    Thank you for your service and for your recognition of the work the Auxiliary does. Speaking for many of my shipmates, we’re proud to be of help to the Coast Guard, our communities and the nation.

  2. Larry Ivey says:

    Thank You for answering the question so well! I’m an Auxiliarist in Tampa, Florida and I am very proud to be part of Team Coast Guard. Thank You very much for your service. I have great respect for all active duty military personnel for all that you do!!

    Semper Paratus

  3. Paul Casalese says:

    Lieutenant,thank you for the accurate description of what we do and the hours we put in. I would only add “And they do it with a smile!!” to your answer.

  4. Chris Harshfield says:

    Thank you

  5. Darrell Wood says:

    Lieutenant Erickson, thank you. It is an honor to serve as a member of the Auxiliary branch of the Coast Guard. Bringing many years of tugboat experience to the Auxiliary has allowed me to serve my country and my community. I have benefited from training and experience while serving, and I have found friends whom I would have otherwise never known. Upon being elected to my first office I stated, and repeat often: “This is the finest group of people whom I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.”
    Semper Paratus.

  6. Peter Inglis says:

    As an Auxillary member in Kentucky,I brought 20 years of experiance at sea in the British Merchant Navy.I am a proud member and enjoy the work with the Active Duty.The training is great and enjoy the safety Patrols.As a Xpat this was what i was looking for, with the fellowship and training and being on the boat crew makes it for me.I enjoy the Coastie oprating with the kids.There reactions is what puts a smile on my face.

  7. david osborne says:

    Thank you for puting what we do so well. I belong to flotilla 5-6 er It is a honor to serve our country and comunity. To be apart of the coast guard is a honor also. I have learned alot about seamanship and i have made good friends.

  8. Lynn Mott 081-01-07 says:

    Thank you for getting the word out there at what we do. Some of us hold full time jobs and still help out.

  9. Art Womer FSO-MT 082-11-04 says:

    Thank You for the recognition. Glad to have all of you “regulars” doing what you do best and glad we can help out.

  10. Kevin G says:

    Thank you for an amazing article. I’m very proud to be able to do anything I can to help, I enjoy every minute of it.

  11. Ron Darcey says:

    My appreciation is when the Gold Side heartily acknowledges our contribution such as you have in your message. I joined right after 9/11 in the air program continuing today flying operations from California/Oregon boarder south to San Luis Obispo, San Francisco Bay through the enormous San Joaquin Delta region’s 1,000 miles of navigable waterways. Sure, the reimbursement is fine (really keeps us current), meals for my crew is out of pocket and is OK. The real value however, is this opportunity to support you actives, assisting and working each mission that comes along efficiently and the pride that comes with the participation. Also, thanks for recognizing how easily we step up to the plate and how professionally we conduct our part of the job.

    Ron Darcey

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