US Coast Guard operations in Kentucky focus on commercial and recreational vessels transiting mostly the Ohio River and a few dozen miles of the Mississippi. With four stations and 37 boats based in the state, the Coast Guard plays a vital role in Kentucky. In addition to participating in 202 search and rescue missions, last year Kentucky-based units inspected over 91,000 tons of maritime commerce and registered over 172,000 watercraft. Coast Guard jobs in Kentucky are mostly held by active enlistees, however reserve and civilian units also make a significant contribution in fulfilling the overall mission of the Coast Guard.
Initial Training and Qualifications
If candidates can meet certain Coast Guard job requirements such as having a bachelor degree, they can apply for enlistment at the officer level. Any bachelor degree qualifies a candidate to apply for entry at this level, and after completing a 17-week Officer Candidate School, new officers will then be assigned to further specific training for careers in their field of expertise. In Kentucky, Coast Guard officer careers and associated degrees include the following important positions:
- Legal Expert; law degree
- Finance Officer; accounting or business degree
- Human Resources Officer; business management or a degree in public administration
- Electronic Engineering Officer; computer, software, systems, and telecommunications engineering degrees
- Environmental Officer; degree in biology or chemistry
Civilians also make up an important part of the Coast Guard, serving in many officer-equivalent positions that also require a bachelor degree.
Entry into the Coast Guard can be accomplished at several levels. Enlistment is the most common method, and comes with requirements that include at least four years of service and being between the ages of 17-27. Education is not one of the Coast Guard requirements for basic-level entry, because after eight weeks of boot camp new enlistees will be provided with extensive training for their careers in the unit where they are stationed.
With each of Kentucky’s hundreds of Coast Guard personnel acting to fulfill his or her individual role, missions such as the following can be accomplished which contribute to the overall protection of the state and country:
- Besides initial boot camp and officer academy, all personnel will participate in continual training for their specific Coast Guard careers in Kentucky. A recent example of this was an exercise held in Wickliffe that saw Coast Guard units combining forces with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the simulation of a transportation incident involving hazardous materials being released into large-volume river.
- In another recent event related to hazardous materials, Coast Guard representatives from Kentucky met with their counterparts from seven other nearby states to discuss coordinated hazmat responses and to formulate the best types of responses. Discussion specifically focused on oil spills.
- Using 16-foot shallow-water boats, Coast Guard teams recently assembled throughout Kentucky in response to flooding. Known as DART or Disaster Area Response Teams, these involve Coast Guard medical, logistics, and rescue units partnering with other emergency and law enforcement agencies to conduct rescue operations throughout flooded urban areas. In response to recent flooding, DART units were on standby in Paducah and Obion County.
- Near Louisville Coast Guard Marine Inspectors were recently dispatched by the local command center after receiving a distress call that a barge carrying hydrochloric acid was taking on water. Investigators arrived on the scene to test for contamination and ensure the source of the flooding water was contained. Because of prior training, officials were able to act quickly and notify emergency response teams in neighboring states as a precaution, although no contamination was discovered.