Maritime Academy prepares future Coast Guardsmen

A cadet from the California Maritime Academy "rings the bell" during exam week after passing his Coast Guard exams to receive a maritime license. Photo courtesy of California Maritime Academy.

A cadet from the California Maritime Academy “rings the bell” during exam week after passing his Coast Guard exams to receive a maritime license. Photo courtesy of California Maritime Academy.

Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Blaine Meserve-Nibley

The Coast Guard needs skilled individuals to bring unique experiences and training into the service. As such, the Coast Guard is heavily invested in a number of programs available to cadets at seven federal and state maritime academies. This year three officers and two enlisted reserve members joined the Coast Guard’s ranks from the California Maritime Academy.

Ensign Thomas Hernandez, Ensign Micah Howell, and Ensign Robert Bobuk III were part of the California Maritime Academy Pre-Commissioning Pilot Program, a direct commissioning opportunity for cadets earning a Coast Guard maritime license.

The three received their assignments within the fleet aboard Coast Guard Cutters Thetis, Waesche, and  Alex Haley. Hernandez said he was looking forward to getting to the fleet after four years spent at CMA. “It has taught me so much, and I am thankful for the program which helped prepare me.”

During their commissioning ceremony, Coast Guard Capt. Gregory Stump, commander of Sector San Francisco, and retired Coast Guard Capt. P.J. Maguire wished the newly commissioned officers good luck in the fleet. Addressing the ensigns, Maguire said, “A leader cares about each and every one of their people.”

Retired Navy Rear Adm. Thomas A. Cropper, president of the California Maritime Academy, lauded the CMAPP program and its newly commissioned officers, saying, “I am grateful to the Coast Guard leadership for the superb opportunities that CMAPP provides to our cadets. I am absolutely confident that these three new officers will serve our nation admirably.”

Cadets from the California Maritime Academy learn seamanship aboard the training boat Golden Bear.  The Golden Bear serves as the primary training academy’s platform for cadets to apply technological skills introduced in the classroom and leadership skills acquired from their work assignments and responsibilities within the Corps of Cadets. Photo courtesy by California Maritime Academy

Cadets from the California Maritime Academy learn seamanship aboard the training boat Golden Bear. The Golden Bear serves as the primary training academy’s platform for cadets to apply technological skills introduced in the classroom and leadership skills acquired from their work assignments and responsibilities within the Corps of Cadets. Photo courtesy by California Maritime Academy

While the program is no longer accepting new applicants, the Coast Guard has other opportunities for cadets seeking to serve, including Maritime Academy Graduate, Select Reserve, and the Auxiliary University Program.

Auxiliary University Program is new to CMA and allows cadets to affiliate with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The AUP gives students valuable training in a variety of Coast Guard missions and allows them to apply for multiple internships throughout the fleet.

Lt.j.g. Joseph Schlosser, assigned to the Coast Guard Recruiting Command, explained the Coast Guard’s goals for the maritime academy. “The Coast Guard’s focus right now is to harbor and propel cadet interest in the service during their academic tenure.”

Schlosser added that through implementations like the Auxiliary University Program and improved awareness of Officer Candidate School and MARGRAD, the Coast Guard allows cadets to identify if it’s the best fit for them. In turn, the Coast Guard gains a highly qualified, motivated and genuinely interested pool of potential officer candidates.

This summer, CMA cadets Blake Abraham and Kevin Prochnow attended boot camp to serve as Coast Guard reservists while studying at the academy. Both received assignments to Station San Francisco. The reserve force offers excellent opportunities for cadets seeking job experience and training in their field of study, allowing them to be competitive in the tough job market.

“My education at the maritime academy greatly augments my time with the Coast Guard,” said Seaman Abraham. “My degree, Global Studies and Maritime Affairs, focuses on maritime history, law, environmental concerns, and current maritime affairs which greatly increases my understanding of Coast Guard missions and function.”

The Coast Guard programs at the academy are supported by three officers, two petty officers, and numerous Auxiliarists from the local flotilla. CMA was recently recognized by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, receiving the Above and Beyond Award for outstanding support to its reserve members in deployed statuses.