Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Boating Safety

Unfortunatley this Memorial Day Weekend in Iowa has been quite deadly on the water. Remember that there are a few things that can keep you and your family safe on the water:

1. Always wear a life jacket. Remember it is required that all kids 12 and under wear one, but parents and older brothers and sisters should too.

2. Do not drink and drive a boat. Alcohol has an even greater effect while boating than on shore due to the motion of the boat and the heat.

3. Take a boating safety class. You may think that you are a boating expert, but it never hurts to learn the rules of the road. Plus some insurance companies will offer you a discount on your boaters insurance. To find out when one is coming up e-mail us at

4. Get a free vessel safety check. They are free and only take about 15 minutes. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Power Squadron both offer vessel safety checks that help boat owners to make sure that they have all of the required safety equipment to go on the water. Most boats that do not pass inspection are only missing a few things that cost less than $20. Also, some insurance companies will offer you a discount on your boaters insurance for passing the vessel safety check. To sign up to get a vessel safety check e-mail us at

Here are some safety tips on life jackets from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Spring Into Safe Boating

Auxilarist Jeff Towle conducts a Vessel Safety Check during Memorial Day Weekend in 2009.
(U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo by Brandon Butters)

On Saturday, May 29th the Coast Guard Auxiliary will participate in the annual "Spring into Safe Boating” activity at Saylorville Lake. This activity is in conjunction with National Safe Boating Week.

Vessel Examiners from the Coast Guard Auxiliary will conduct free voluntary vessel safety checks at the ramps and marina at the lake.

A Vessel Safety Check is a free courtesy examination of your boat (Vessel) to verify the presence and condition of certain Safety Equipment required by State and the Federal regulations. The Vessel Examiner is a trained specialist and is a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. They will also make certain recommendations and discuss certain safety issues that will make you a safer boater.

This is not boarding or a law enforcement issue. No citations will be given as a result of this encounter. We will supply you with a copy of our evaluation so that you may follow some of the suggestions given. Vessels that pass will be able to display our distinctive VSC decal. This does not exempt you from law enforcement boarding, but you can be prepared to make this a positive encounter.

Boat owners may also receive a discount from their insurance company for successful completion of a Vessel Safety Check. Vessel Examiners bill be at the Lake View and Cherry Glenn ramps and the Saylorville Marina from noon to 5 pm on Saturday.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

AUX Station Omaha Ready for Duty

Auxilarist Roland Newton
Auxilarist Roland Newton works on the antennas high on the communications tower at AUX Station Omaha.
(U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo by Trevor Henderson)

Every year, prior to the start of surface patrols, Division 33 prepares AUX Station Omaha for duty.

This year, Flotilla 4 members Chuck Brudtkuhl, Roland Newton and Trevor Henderson, along with the Division 33 Vice Commander Frank Reiss, worked to prepare the station for operations.

This required the usual cleanup after winter hibernation for the station. There were equipment issues that required attention so these Auxilarists determined what the problems were and went to work solving them.

Division 33 Staff Officer for Communications, Roland Newton, braved the winds to skillfully scale the communications tower to repair cable and check on the antennas after a brutal winter.

After several hours of cleanup, repairs and setup for the season the station is now ready for duty.

AUX Station Omaha serves as a watchstanding facility for the Coast Guard Auxiliary vessels that conduct safety patrols on the Missouri River near Omaha. A watchstander monitors the operations of Auxiliary vessels and coordinates with Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River in St. Louis. The purpose of this is to monitor for boats in distress and to direct and communicate with Coast Guard Auxiliary patrol boats.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Setting The Watch


I am honored to serve as the 24th Commandant of the Coast Guard. When I assumed the duties from Admiral Thad Allen at noon today, it concluded a series of key rotations and marked the setting of a new watch to lead our service.

Serving with me on this watch are Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O'Hara, Vice Commandant, Master Chief Michael Leavitt, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard and Master Chief Mark Allen, Master Chief Petty Officer of Reserve Forces. Each assumed their duties over the past ten days. They are all very experienced professionals who have been tried and tested in the field. We are also joined by Vice Admiral Robert Parker, Commander, Atlantic Area, Vice Admiral Manson Brown, Commander Pacific Area, Vice Admiral John Currier, Chief-of-Staff and Future Deputy Commandant of Mission Support and Rear Admiral Brian Salerno, Deputy Commandant for Operations. I am proud to serve alongside this exceptionally talented group of leaders.

My watch will be guided by the following vision for our service:

We are defined by our missions, people and heritage. We will selflessly serve our country and perform our duties in a manner that secures the trust and confidence of mariners and citizens alike. We will set a course that steadies the service, honors our profession, strengthens our partnerships and respects our shipmates.

This vision will be achieved by the incoming watch through clear focus on select projects and initiatives currently under way in our service. Instead of creating new tasking, we intend to emphasize vital initiatives, leverage teams that are in place now and move these efforts forward to completion. I will provide more specifics in the coming weeks.

I often use the term Shipmate. You need to know that this is a team of endearment for me that represents a common bond across the entire Coast Guard family and all mission communities. There is no higher compliment in my opinion than being called a Shipmate and no better goal than being a good one.

Admiral Allen will continue his service as the National Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill managing the overall federal response. I am glad he accepted this last assignment as it will enable me to focus on the Coast Guard's response, and serving you as Commandant of the Coast Guard. Admiral Allen is a true public servant and visionary, I thank him for his service.

I encourage all Coast Guard active duty, reserve, civilian, auxiliary, families and retirees to bookmark and initiate RSS feed from the senior leadership web page at WWW.USCG.MIL/SENIORLEADERSHIP. We intend to use this location during our watch to post information and address subjects that are important to our service.

All standing orders remain in effect, set the watch and carry out the routine of the day.

Semper Paratus,

Admiral Bob Papp

A video message from Admiral Papp

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Coast Guard Commandant's Change of Command


Later today, I will be relieved as Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard by Admiral Robert Papp. It has been an honor to serve as your Commandant for the past four years and I am confident in Admiral Papp's ability to lead the Service during a period of tremendous changes, challenges, and opportunities. The value of the U.S. Coast Guard has never been greater than it is today and it is the men and women of our great Service who truly make it all possible.

After the Change of Command ceremony, I will continue to serve as the National Incident Commander for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill for some period of time but I wanted to take this final opportunity to thank you for your tremendous commitment, dedication, and courage over the past four years.

When I became the Commandant in 2006, I issued a number of orders that I thought were necessary to meet the challenges we faced then and set the conditions for future success. With your help we have accomplished a great deal. We transformed our acquisition process, enhanced our marine safety capability and capacity, created a new and more effective support structure for our Reserve Forces, stood up the Force Readiness Command and Deployable Operations Group, created the Maritime Enforcement Rating, and transformed our maintenance and logistics processes. At the same time we met operational challenges in piracy off the Horn of Africa, the tsunami in America Samoa, the earthquake in Haiti, and more recently the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We accomplished all of that without losing focus on our broader mission set. We continued to interdict drugs and made major strides to eliminate the use of self propelled semi-submersibles. We deployed wireless biometric capability to significantly reduce illegal alien migration. At the same time we saved countless lives.

In the last six years, we have also strengthened our relationships within the Department of Homeland Security. Through the completion of the first Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, we helped mature the Department and build the Nation's homeland security enterprise.

In the process we enhanced our ties to the Department of Defense. We held unprecedented staff talks with the Navy, Air Force, Marines, Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard Bureau. The Chief of Naval Operations, the Commandant of the Marine Corps and I cosigned "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower" and Naval Operating Concepts. We forged stronger bonds with our interagency partners in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Maritime Administration, Drug Enforcement Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, and the Department of the Interior. Finally, we strengthened our international ties with our hemispheric partners and through the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum and North Atlantic Coast Guard Forum. Together, we raised the visibility of Coast Guard missions to our external stakeholders and our international partners.

The common thread connecting each of these of initiatives and actions, and my overarching goal as Commandant, was for the Coast Guard to become more change-centric - to sense changes in our operational environment and have the courage to make course corrections before problems overwhelm us or we have terms dictated to us externally. To do that we must become more diverse, adapt to new technologies, and embrace social media as well. I believe we have become more change-centric and a learning organization that capitalizes on lessons learned. Nowhere has this been more evident than in our responses to the devastating earthquake in Haiti and in our leading role to the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The world has seen the value of the U.S. Coast Guard in action. We protect, defend, and save America's maritime interests wherever they are at stake - that is the legacy you have left for our future Guardians to embrace.

In spite of our operational successes, challenges remain. Our operations are not risk free and we have known the pain at the loss of shipmates from USCGC HEALY, MSST Anchorage, CG 6505, and CG 1705. Our promise to them is to prevent future accidents and insure we create the safest possible environment for our personnel. The Coast Guard will meet future challenges because of our multi-mission nature, bias for action, and the incredible talent and dedication of our people. As we look to the future, I encourage each of you to be insatiably curious, to be life-long learners, to look after your shipmates, and, finally, to seize every chance to apply your leadership skills, talent, and competencies when the opportunity presents itself.

I am incredibly proud of all our active duty members, reservists, civilians and auxiliarists. No matter how fiercely the winds of change swirl around us, our people stabilize the Service. You are America's Maritime Guardians and your country needs you now more than ever. It has been my extraordinary honor to have been your Commandant and I am excited to see where you will take the organization in the future. Fair winds.


Admiral Thad W. Allen

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Flotilla 4 Members Recognized by 8th Western Rivers District

During the District Awards Banquet, Flotilla 4 and its members were recognized for all of their hard work in 2009. The following awards were presented to the members of Flotilla 4:

Commodore’s Honor Flotilla Streamer

Flotilla 4
Travis Daniels, Flotilla Commander

Auxiliary Achievement Medal
Nick Critelli

Auxiliarist of the Year 2nd Runner-Up
Doug Jansen

Compass Rose Award
Presented to members performing 100 or more hours but less than 200 hours of Patrols and CG Operational Support
Wendy Faganel
Ralph Tomlinson
Jeffrey Towle

Sextant Award
Presented to members performing 200 or more hours but less than 300 hours of Patrols and CG Operational Support
Nick Critelli

500 Club
Presented to members performing 50 or more Vessel Safety Checks but less than 100
Doug Jansen

1000 Club
Presented to members performing 100 or more Vessel Safety Checks but less than 200
Ralph Tomlinson

Apple Award
Presented to members performing 15 or more hours but less than 100 as Head Instructor in Public Education and Member Training missions
Nick Critelli
Doug Jansen
Roland Newton
Norma Newton
Ralph Tomlinson
Jeffrey Towle

Ruler Award
Presented to members performing 30 or more but less than 100 hours as Instructor Aide in Public Education and Member Training missions.
Norma Newton
Jeffrey Towle

Travelers Award
Presented to members performing 20 or more RBS Program Visits
Doug Jansen
Phil Patterson
Ralph Tomlinson
Jeffrey Towle

Publicist Award
Presented to members performing 25 or more Public Affair hours.
Doug Jansen
Trevor Henderson
Ralph Tomlinson
Suzanne Tomlinson
Jeffrey Towle

2500 Club
Presented to members achieving a total of 250 or more but less than 500 weighted points
Nick Critelli
Travis Daniels
Trevor Henderson
Norma Newton

5000 Club
Presented to members achieving a total of 500 or more weighted points.
Doug Jansen
Ralph Tomlinson
Jeffrey Towle

Marine Safety Award
Presented to members performing 25 or more hours of Marine Safety missions.
Nick Critelli
Paul Faganel
Wendy Faganel
Ralph Tomlinson
Suzanne Tomlinson
Jeffrey Towle

Marine Environmental Protection
Presented to members performing 25 or more hours of Marine Environmental missions
Nick Critelli
Wendy Faganel
Trevor Henderson
Jeffrey Towle

Outreach Award
Presented to members performing 25 or more hours in Government Support, International Affairs and Legislative Outreach
Nick Critelli

Sparky Award
Presented to members performing 25 or more Radio Watchstanding hours.
Roland Newton

Photography Award Vessel Examination
Doug Jansen

Photography Award Public Education
Doug Jansen

Photography Award Operations
Doug Jansen

Critelli Earns Coast Guard Auxiliary Achievement Award

Auxilarist Nick Critelli was presented with the Coast Guard Auxiliary Achievment Award at the 8th Western Rivers District Awards Banquet.

Nick Critelli was presented this award for "superior performance of duty while serving as the Sector Upper Mississippi River Liaison Officer to the Iowa Army National Guard from June 2009 to February 2010. Nick is a member of Flotilla 4 in Des Moines.

Nick Critelli (center) is presented with the Coast Guard Auxiliary Achievement Award by CDR Campbell (left) and COMO Dan Maresh (right).
(U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary by Bill Colby)