Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What’s the Coast Guard doing in Colorado?

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard “Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council” magazine. By Mr. Marvin Butcher and Mr. John Donar, auxiliary coordinators.

What, indeed, are we doing in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Wyoming? This is the area of responsibility (AOR) of the Eighth Western Rivers region of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. It is easily the auxiliary’s largest geographic region, which is surprising since it is entirely landlocked and there are no ocean coastlines even bordering this area.

Many people don’t think of the Midwest as having any shoreline or water, but they could not be more mistaken. There are over 4,200 miles of navigable waters, more than 1,800 miles of tributary waterways, 62 locks and dams, six major commercial ports, and 422 bridges within this area.

The Eighth Western Rivers region is an auxiliary region attached to the Eighth Coast Guard District. Auxiliary flotillas and divisions are organized in districts comparable to Coast Guard districts and are assigned the same district number. A flotilla is the basic organizational unit of the auxiliary and comprised of at least 15 members who carry out auxiliary program activities. Every U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist is a member of a local flotilla, grouped into divisions. Each division consists of five or more flotillas.

The Western Rivers Auxiliary performs many of the same functions that its coastal brethren do. It conducts recreational boating safety missions, boating safety patrols, air patrols, radio missions, and provides direct sector support.

Due to the distance involved in performing many standard missions and the relatively small size of the active duty and reserve forces assigned to the Midwest, it has become commonplace for auxiliarists to be trained in inspections and investigations to assist active duty forces.

Remote Customer Service Support Offices
Within this framework, the Eighth Western Rivers region has developed one of its most important projects: a program that provides direct support to the Regional Examination Centers (RECs) in Memphis, Tenn., and St. Louis, Mo.

Four offices have been established in St. Paul, Minn.; Branson, Mo.; the Kansas City metropolitan area; and Denver, Colo. All the remote customer assistance offices are manned by auxiliarists. These offices provide functions such as ensuring that:
· an application for license or document is acceptable,
· citizenship and resident alien documents are correct,
· all applications are forwarded to the RECs.

Each office also has an auxiliarist designated as a Coast Guard official capable of administering the oaths required by the National Maritime Center.

About the authors:
Mr. Marvin Butcher served 27 years in the U.S. Navy, where he commanded several warships before retiring at the rank of captain. He then served as a merchant marine master of a U.S. Navy special mission ship. Mr. Butcher was named the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist of the Year for 2006.

Mr. John L. Donar has an extensive business management background and is a U.S. Army veteran. Mr. Donar joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary in 1989 and has held numerous elected and appointed positions, including serving as a qualification examiner and coordinator to Sector Lower Mississippi River.
For more information:
Full article and “U.S. Coast Guard Western Rivers Sectors” edition of USCG Proceedings is available at www.uscg.mil/proceedings. Click on “archives” and then “2007-08 Vol. 64, Number 4” (Winter 2007-08).

Subscribe online at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/subscribe.asp.

Online survey available at: http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/survey.asp.

Direct requests for print copies of this edition to: HQS-DG-NMCProceedings@uscg.mil.