More than a dozen US Coast Guard facilities are located up and down Washington State’s coastline, home to 95 boats and 17 cutters responsible for ensuring the security of our country’s international maritime borders while upholding the law. Pilots and flight crews based at Air Station Port Angeles work in tandem with maritime crews to conduct over 1,000 search and rescue operations annually, while the National Motor Lifeboat School based at Cape Disappointment trains the Coast Guard’s next generation of recruits in the safe and effective operation of 47-foot motorboats, the backbone of most operations.
Joining the Ranks of the Washington State Coast Guard
In Washington, enlisted members at two levels – basic and officer – hold most Coast Guard jobs.
Basic Enlistment – Training for Coast Guard careers at the basic enlisted level starts with eight weeks of boot camp, which is then followed by unit-based training in a particular field that supports one of four major operational fields.
Officer Candidate School – Minimum Coast Guard job requirements at the officer level stipulate that candidates have a bachelor degree in any subject. Before starting in on specific job training, prospective officers will need to first graduate from 17 weeks of Officer Candidate School. Officers are assigned to a career which matches their skills, and this is often related to the subject they studied in college. Some examples of officer careers and degree programs include:
- Medical Officers with a degree in Medical Science
- Pilots with a degree in Science and Aviation
- Environmental Officers with a degree in Biology or Marine Biology
- Legal Officers with a degree in law
- Intelligence Officers with a degree in Mathematics or one of the Sciences
- Engineering Officers can be found in a variety of fields:
- Marine Engineering
- Network Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
Operations Demonstrate Capabilities of Washington Coast Guard
While many associate the Coast Guard with search and rescue operations, the agency does far more than just that. Some recent missions out of Washington highlight this fact and demonstrate the range of positions in which those serving work:
- The Washington State Department of Ecology recently notified the Coast Guard of a diesel fuel sheen which had recently appeared on the Columbia River near a former nuclear power station. Coast Guard environmental units responded by arranging for booms to be placed around a suspected vessel moored at Lord Island while they assessed how to stop and clean up the contamination.
- Because of numerous safety and environmental violations, a 553-foot vessel loaded with grain bound for Japan was detained by Coast Guard authorities and ordered to remain in port at Longview until it could pass inspection. Many of the violations were related to excessive amounts of on-board oil leaks, and the ship’s emergency fire pump was found to be leaking water.
- Overlooking Seattle, Mount Ranier is a popular destination for hikers, one of whom recently found himself in need of rescuing after he fell 100 feet down into a ravine. Coast Guard units were alerted and dispatched two Jayhawk rescue helicopters to the scene where they were able to rescue the man and transport him to a hospital in Olympia.