We had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Coast Guard Jones Beach station. We were greeted by its commanding officer, Bryan Hoffman. We were immediately introduced to the longest-serving member of this station, a beautiful old black Lab named Nike. He was a slow mover but clearly was a high-ranking officer at the station.
Mr. Hoffman was nice enough to answer a bunch of our questions about the facility. One of the questions was about how long you have to train to get into the Coast Guard. It is an eight-week boot camp that focuses on physical fitness and just learning the rules.
We learned the Jones Beach station has more boardings than any station in the country. A boarding is when the Coast Guard has to get on a boat. It could be for a safety inspection or maybe a search for something illegal. The Jones Beach facility is the only one around that has a boat lift, which is used to pull a boat out of the water. These boats have to be in perfect running order 24 hours a day, so if there is any work to be done on a boat, the boat lift can pull it out of the water.
We then had a tour of the facility. We saw the mess hall, which is where they eat. We saw the conference room, the entertainment room and the communications room, which was cool. It had cameras all over the place that you could zoom in on different areas: New York City, the inlet, the bridge. Then it was time to actually get on the boat.
The boat we toured was made of aluminum and about 40 feet long. It was designed to be able to flip upside down and stay afloat. It had many locking doors to keep the water out if it were to roll over. The boat’s engineer, MK3 (machinery technician) Mike Cline, showed us the engine room. He said sometimes it can get to over 100 degrees down there when he has to repair something. He also pointed out other areas of the boat that have watertight storage areas for maintenance items, food and water.
We asked them how frequently they get a call to duty. They explained that most of Long Island’s boaters are on the water in the warmer months, so winter can be slow, but in the summer they can get many calls a day.
BM3 (boatswain’s mate) Justin Blackman, SN (seaman) Cameron Forshee and SN Tyler Letendre joined us on the tour and showed us the boat lift and maintenance area. Everyone was really nice, and they all seemed to love their job. Since we live on an island, it was nice that these guys and others are there to keep us safe and make boating fun for all.