U.S. Coast Guard
The U.S. Coast Guard is one of five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, but after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it has been adjusted to fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The coast guard is older than the navy, and its responsibilities include search and rescue (SAR), maritime law enforcement (MLE), aids to navigation (ATON), ice breaking, environmental protection, port security, and military readiness. There are 38,000 active-duty men and women, 8,000 reservists, and 35,000 auxiliary personnel in the coast guard. A typical day in the life of the coast guard, from coast to coast, involves the following:
Conducting 109 search and rescue cases
Saving ten lives and assisting 192 people in distress
Protecting $2,791,841 in property
Launching 396 small boat missions
Launching 164 aircraft missions
Boarding 144 vessels
Seizing 169 pounds of marijuana and 306 pounds of cocaine worth $9,589,000
Intercepting fourteen illegal immigrants
Boarding 100 large vessels for port safety checks
Responding to twenty oil or hazardous chemical spills totaling 2,800 gallons
Servicing 135 aids to navigation
To join the coast guard for active duty, you must be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien between the ages of seventeen and twenty-seven. Reservists must be between seventeen and thirty-nine. You should have a high school diploma, but GEDs are accepted in special circumstances. You can have only two dependents. You must pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, a military entrance medical exam, and you must be someone who likes the water.
You get paid twice a month, on the first and fifteenth, in an amount that is based on your pay grade. You are eligible for promotions based on your expertise in your chosen career field, your job performance, and service requirements. You get 2.5 days paid vacation per month, totaling thirty days a year. When on active duty, you receive complete and free medical and dental care, and you are covered for $250,000 in term life insurance for less than $20 a month. The GI Bill helps pay for your college education or vocational technical training.
The coast guard is always hiring. Call 1-877-NOW-USCG to speak with the recruiter nearest you to determine eligibility and your pay grade upon entry.
The coast guard is busier than ever now that it falls under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. For example, a ship is regularly on patrol in the Hudson River near the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The hijacked planes that hit the World Trade Center flew right over this facility on their deadly mission. If one of those aircraft had decided to take a nosedive and slam into the power plant instead of the towers, the entire Northeast would have been devastated.
Coast Guard Boot Camp
Boot camp is located at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, New Jersey. It is eight weeks long, the length of boot camp in the army, navy, and air force — all branches of the military, that is, except the marines. It is a rigorous period of training, combining classroom study with skills such as first aid, firefighting, weapons handling, practical seamanship, and general coast guard knowledge. There are daily physical fitness classes and time spent in the pool learning water-survival techniques.
The minimum physical requirements for graduation are the following:
Push-ups (in one minute): male, 29; female, 23
Sit-ups (in one minute): male, 38; female, 32
1.5-mile run: male, 12:51 minutes; female, 15:26 minutes
Sit and reach: male, 16.50; female, 19.25
Swim circuit: Jump off a five-foot platform into the pool, swim 100 meters, and tread water for five minutes
Needless to say, the ability to swim is mandatory. If you cannot swim, the coast guard will train you, but it is obligatory that you pass their tests.
U.S. Coast Guard Academy
The U.S. Coast Guard Academy is located in New London, Connecticut. Some 300 high school graduates enroll annually. They graduate four years later with a bachelor of science degree and a commission as an ensign.
Two-thirds of academy recruits graduate in technical majors, including civil engineering, mechanical engineering, naval architecture, marine engineering, electrical engineering, operations research and computer analysis, and marine environmental science. The academy is tuition free. Cadets also earn a small salary. Graduates must serve for five years after graduation.