Monday, February 23, 2009

Norma Newton Earns AUXOP Qualification

This weekend Flotilla 4 member, Norma Newton completed her final exam and earned her AUXOP qualification. Norma is the fourth member to complete the AUXOP program. Norma serves as the Flotilla Staff Officer for Public Education and Personnel Services as well as the Divison Staff Officer for Personnel Services.

The AUXOP, or Operational Auxiliarist, program is an advanced training program available only to members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. An AUXOP member has completed six advanced specialty courses and is entitled to wear the special AUXOP device on the uniform. Those courses are Seamanship, Navigation, Patrols, Communications, Weather, and Search & Rescue.

The Director of Auxiliary controls the examinations for the AUXOP Specialties. All of the examinations are closed-book.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Flotilla 4 Launches New Website

Today Flotilla 4 has launched a new version of its website. This site takes advantage of several new social media technologies including Blogger, Flickr, Basecamp, and Google Calendar. Please check out the website at
The website now has a distinctive public section for potential members, boaters, and those seeking information about the Auxilary and its programs. The member section is a central point for general member information and resources.
Thanks to District 7 for the use of their website design template to help us with the general feel of the site.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Flotilla 4 Offers Suddenly In Command Course

Flotilla 4 will be hosting the Suddenly Command Course at Valley Southwoods in West Des Moines from 7 to 9 pm on April 16 and April 23.

SUDDENLY IN COMMAND: The captain becomes incapacitated or falls overboard; you purchase a new boat and step aboard for the first time. You are Suddenly In Command.

This 4-hour boating safety primer is designed for those not generally at the helm, and will help you to “be prepared” with the basics in case of an emergency.

You will learn about your vessel, including nomenclature and operating principles including starting the engine. Also included are descriptions of what causes boating mishaps and how to minimize them, basic boat handling and what equipment should be on board.

Literature contains many horror stories about a passenger, who does not know how to start the engine or operate the radio, watching in horror as a strong wind blows the boat away faster than a captain who has fallen overboard can swim.

Misfortune occurs in seconds, and you have the rest of your life to be grateful that you knew what to do because you were prepared.

About Boating Safely Course Coming Up

Flotilla 4 will be hosting an About Boating Safely course at Valley Southwoods in West Des Moines . It will be held over seven consecutive Tuesday evenings.

About Boating Safely includes a wide variety of information. You will learn about:

1. General information about boats and maintenance
2. Information on preparing for safe and enjoyable outings
3. Navigation rules and aids to navigation
4. Guidelines for operating your boat or PWC safely
5. What to do in case of boating emergencies
6. State-specific laws and regulations you must follow

In general, this information applies to all recreational watercraft (powerboats, PWCs, sailboats and boats which are paddled). PWC and Jet Ski operators often have additional laws and restrictions which apply to them.

Class dates are:

March 24
March 31
April 7
April 14
April 21
April 28
May 5

For registration information please contact Norma Newton.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Flotilla 4 at Boat Show This Weekend

Flotilla 4 will be one of the organizations at the Original Fishermen's Swap Meet and Boat Show at the 4-H Exhibits Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, IA.

Event Days:
February 21, 2009 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
February 22, 2009 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Members of the flotilla will be there to talk about boating safety and answer questions about the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

If you are interested in one of our boating safety classes please visit our website at

Monday, February 16, 2009

Flotilla 4 Begins Boat Crew Training

Phil Patterson (left) and Chuck Brudtkuhl (right) learn about securing another vessel to the side of the Lady Grace during Boat Crew Training.

After the snow storm that blanketed Des Moines with seven inches of snow, Flotilla 4 went to work training new boat crew members in boat crew operations.

Instructors Jeff Towle and Travis Daniels worked with students during the February training weekend. Students included Chuck Brudtkuhl, Brandon Butters, Paul Faganel, Wendy Faganel, John Hawkinson, Doug Jansen, and Phil Patterson.

Despite the bad weather, the students were able to work on the Lady Grace in a heated warehouse to learn about the fundamentals of boat crew procedures and teamwork. Students trained for two days as they prepared on their journey towards qualification.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Third AUXOP Qualification in Three Months

Flotilla 4 can add another AUXOP qualified member to the list as Roland Newton completed his final exam and earned his AUXOP qualification. Roland is the third member in three months to complete the AUXOP program.

The AUXOP, or Operational Auxiliarist, program is an advanced training program available only to members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. An AUXOP member has completed six advanced specialty courses and is entitled to wear the special AUXOP device on the uniform. Those courses are Seamanship, Navigation, Patrols, Communications, Weather, and Search & Rescue.

The Director of Auxiliary controls the examinations for the AUXOP Specialties. All of the examinations are closed-book.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 2009 Above Board

The February 2009 Flotilla 4 Newsletter, Above Board, is now available at

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Flotilla 4 Earns Award of Merit from National Water Safety Congress

Flotilla 4 has received notice that they have been selected to receive the Award of Merit from the National Water Safety Congress. The Coast Guard Auxiliary was nominated by the Saylorville Lake Corps of Engineers staff for their willingness to assist in safety and security during the Flood of 2008.

The National Water Safety Congress (NWSC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting recreation water safety in the United States. The Congress was organized in 1951 in response to a growing number of recreation related drownings. There are two basic approaches to attain goals of reducing fatalities, injuries, and property damage related to water recreation: education and enforcement.

NWSC Awards of Merit: These awards are presented annually for those individuals, organizations, firms or agencies that have made a significant contribution or an outstanding effort to enhance or promote water safety at the community or state level.

Special thanks was conveyed to the participants which included:

Travis Daniels
Nick Critelli
Jeff Towle
John Hawkinson
Dave Ellis
John Halbrook
Norma Newton

Monday, February 9, 2009

Flotilla 4 Prepares for Boat Crew Training

Flotilla 4's New Boat The "Lady Grace"

With the long and cold winter giving us a brief break Flotilla 4 is beginning Boat Crew Member training for ten members over the next few months leading up to the operational season.

Flotilla 4 will be working with Division on classroom and skills training to prepare members to become qualified as boat crew members this season.

Modifications to the Flotilla's new boat, the "Lady Grace" are underway and should be complete in time to be inspected to become a Coast Guard Auxiliary Facility by May 2009.

With a new boat and new crew members Flotilla 4 should be better able to patrol its assigned waterways and respond to emergencies while on orders.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Miracle on the Hudson

Coast Guard Vessels Help Recover
US Airways Flight 1549 From The Hudson River
Photo Courtesy of the US Coast Guard

On a cold January day in New York City the155 people on board of US Airways Flight1549 made an emergency landing in theHudson River.

Thanks to the skill of the crew and firstresponders all passengers and crew weresaved. Numerous sources have noted the“flawless” landing and response of this unusual incident.

Coast Guard small boats were deployed alongwith other state and local assets to aid in therescue of passengers and recovery of the aircraft.

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and his aircrew have repeatedly given their thanks to the first responderswho got the passengers out of the water and to safety so quickly. The crew’s humble attitude after theunique landing and their story is as refreshing as it is enlightening. This incident points out the need for us, as Auxilarists, to take these lessons to heart.

The crew were well trained in their emergency procedures and Capt. Sullenberger is an expert in CockpitResource Management (CRM). CRM works to isolate errors, facilitate communications, and support positivedecision making processes amongst the crew. The fundamentals of CRM were developed around aviation, buthave been applied to various other industries and can easily be applied to Coast Guard Auxiliary operations and training.

Before going out on a patrol crews can discussresponses to various emergencies they mayencounter and what everyone’s responses should be. Checklists shouldn’t be tucked away only to be usedduring annual inspections, but should be followed toset the tone for regular, systematic, operations.Finally, we can learn to remain calm duringemergencies and communicate our situation quickly tothe coxswain and follow their instructions so thateveryone can return home safely.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Coast Guard Modernization

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Thad Allen, as well as other senior Coast Guard leaders currently responsible for leading our Modernization efforts, offer a brief 12-minute overview of the Modernization and explain how our efforts to enhance mission execution will positively impact our members, external stakeholders and the general public.