The spirit of the Jarvis lives on

The Bangladesh naval vessel BNS Sumadra Joy moored on Coast Guard Island, Alameda, Calif., July 19, 2013.. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart

The Bangladesh naval vessel BNS Sumadra Joy moored on Coast Guard Island, Alameda, Calif., July 19, 2013.. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart

Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Wright

 My first day back aboard the boat since the transfer, I noticed that all the uniforms around me were black, not blue. It was a strange sensation to salute a foreign flag flying on a familiar frame, and it caught me off guard. I realized, “This actually happened. This is no longer my boat. This is no longer the place I called home for so long.” When I looked around, I saw many unfamiliar faces looking back at me, and I noticed the strangers were just as nervous as I was. 

 I had been asked to stay behind with several other crewmembers from the former Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis to help train the members of the Bangladesh navy after the official transfer ceremony. Just as I found myself in an unfamiliar environment on a familiar boat, the Bangladeshis were busy making a foreign vessel their own in a different country until they set sail for home in October.

 At first, our biggest struggle was the language barrier. Most of the Bangladeshis spoke English, but the heavy accent made it difficult to understand. It became easier, and in time, some of the Bangladesh sailors taught me a few words in their language. I learned to say “shubo shakal” which means “good morning.”

Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Wright and his shipmates gather on the deck of a Coast Guard Cutter during a patrol March 31, 2013. The crewmembers were assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis before the official decommissioning ceremony. Coast Guard photo submitted by Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Wright

Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Wright and his shipmates gather on the deck of a Coast Guard Cutter during a patrol March 31, 2013. The crewmembers were assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis before the official decommissioning ceremony. Coast Guard photo submitted by Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Wright

Within the weeks of the transfer, the Bangladeshis had created a duty schedule rotation and found accommodations for all their members, something I had to learn to transition in. One of the additions to the unique schedule, a Bangladesh custom and my personal favorite, is called “stand-easy.” It’s a time of the day where everyone takes a break from work to socialize and enjoy a snack of pasta, fruit and chicken. It was a time to get to socialize and get to know one another on a personal level. From this, I learned how great it is to have a break during the workday.

The Bangladeshis have an amazing work ethic, which mirrors that of the Coast Guard. When needed, they will work until 10 p.m. and come ready to work the next day with a positive attitude. Some mornings they would greet me saying, “Ah, Mr. Wright! Your name is Wright, and you are also right. So Wright is always right!” It made my mornings.  

Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Wright holds a retired United States flag from the former Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., May 23, 2013. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Pamela Boehland

Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Wright holds a retired United States flag from the former Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., May 23, 2013. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Pamela Boehland

In my experience the Bangladesh sailors are an intelligent people. Having been their instructor, I watched them absorb six months of boat material in three months. I shouldn’t be surprised though; their lowest ranking member, a first class, has approximately 10 years of sea time under his belt, while the average Coast Guardsman at the same rank has five or less. Even with their vast amounts of experience on the water, they’re always listening; their kindness is something to aspire to.

I can tell how much the Bangladeshis care for their job, because of the dedication and respect they’ve shown to my shipmates and me and the amount of hospitality we have received. It isn’t a Coast Guard cutter anymore, but I don’t consider myself a stranger on their boat. It is my belief that when this Bangladesh crew returns home, a part of the Coast Guard and the crew that dedicated their time to train them will continue along for the ride long after they have left our shores.

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