Lauren Crawford, AUP Class of 2014 at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, reflects on her summer experience on Coast Guard Cutter Northland.
When you are studying and working with the Coast Guard Auxiliary as part of an inland flotilla, it is easy to miss a connection with the cutters and helicopters that operate on the open ocean daily. Before going to college, I cannot remember a time when I was not near the ocean, having lived near the beach for all of my life. I can always remember seeing the vessels out in the water and hearing my dad’s stories about what it is like to be on the ocean, but nothing can compare to the thrill of actually going aboard a Coast Guard cutter and riding those waves yourself. I was blessed enough this summer to have the opportunity to go out an experience cutter life first-hand on the Coast Guard Cutter Northland.
The Northland is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter stationed in Portsmouth, Va. From May 14th to the 16th, I was allowed aboard as a short-term intern and was given a small taste of what life is like on a Coast Guard cutter. From my first moments aboard, the crew was welcoming and immediately toured me around the vessel. It was fascinating to look down into the engine room and to experience what it was like to man a watch at the quarterdeck. Everything that I had learned about in the classroom setting became real.
My time aboard was spent standing an engineer’s watch, working through a Damage Controlman Personnel Qualification Standard book, and observing the daily maintenance involved in keeping a ship running. In watching members of the crew each contribute a valuable portion of the daily duties and responsibilities, and quickly and efficiently handle anything thrown their way, my time underway was an irreplaceable opportunity for me to learn how adaptable the Coast Guard is and how we truly are Semper Paratus.
Though my time was short, those moments I spent working with active-duty Coast Guard personnel were life-changing. The ease of collaboration between the "Gold Side" and the Auxiliary is better fulfilling the missions of Team Coast Guard every single day. This opportunity has encouraged me to try even harder to serve my country and to give all that I can to the Coast Guard. It has instilled in me a longing to never stop serving with honor, respect, and a devotion to duty.
And, to get back out on the water sooner rather than later.
“And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
and the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.”
-John Masefield, poet