I served in the USCGA from 1988-1991, at USCG Station Curtis Bay, which was co-located with the primary USCG shipyard just outside of Baltimore
, MD. I was a member
of USCGA Flotilla 14.
During my tenure there we performed several SAR missions. In three cases we located, boarded, and preserved vessels that were in danger
of sinking or had personnel injuries aboard.
During one "Bay Bridge Swim", in which 1300 swimmers were attempting to cross the Chesapeake Bay
, an unanticipated ebb tide swept several hundred of them down the bay. We plucked about 120 swimmers out of the water
in three sweeps. There were so many that we had to have them lay down in the bilges of our 32 foot boat as ballast. One young lady suffered from hypothermia, and had to be airlifted by helicopter to Johns Hopkins. Good times. Watch out for the static electricity when the basket comes down.
We then spent several hours performing box patterns around the bay looking for strays. Luckily no one was lost
Didn't cost anyone a dime, except the owner and the crew of the boat.
The flotilla commander owned a J30, so many weekends we spent sailing triangles in the middle of the Bay acting as a radio
platform, relaying VHF
transmissions between those in need and those on the way.
I was very fortunate to receive excellent training at USCG Station Curtis Bay. Coastal navigation
, piloting, navigation
, fire fighting, SAR, helicopter operations, communications
, survival training, engine
maint, etc. I was recently out of USAF at that point, and I think the Coasties took pity on me, and let me serve as a deck
hand/lookout on their own patrol boats a couple of weekends a month. At one point I got to jump off the boat into the Bay in February, and had to swim 400 meters to another boat. Luckily they gave me a Mustang suit first, and told me how to use it. A great experience, great training, and I learned a lot.
Desert Storm happened at about this time, and a lot of Coasties got dragged to Kuwait. So, I was able to fill in as I could in communications
and on some boats.
So, to answer your question, I had a great experience with the USCGA. But that might have been exceptional, and it was awhile back.