U.S. Naval Sea Cadets tour CGC Aspen

Damage control station aboard the CGC Aspen

Damage control station aboard the CGC Aspen

Story by Lt. j.g. Sapiano, photos by Chief Warrant Officer Sean Woodworth

The rain was coming down in buckets and a cold wind was whipping across the San Francisco Bay, but that didn’t stop a dedicated group of Naval Sea Cadets and the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Aspen. The Sea Cadets, from Enterprise Division in San Jose, Calif., were aboard Aspen Saturday March 29, 2014, to experience “life at sea” and learn basic shipboard skills.. Despite the rain and wind, the 60 cadets enthusiastically took turns tossing heaving lines to rescue “Oscar”, the man overboard dummy. They toured the engine room, the mess deck, and the bridge. They learned about smallboats and plotted a position on a nautical chart.  They donned exposure suits, hooked lines through buoy sinkers and learned handcuffing and firefighting techniques, rotating through a number of different stations which capture different aspects of Aspen’s missions.

One of the most popular stations was damage control, led by Damage Control Petty Officer 3rd Class Meghan Richter. The cadets learned how to properly don a firefighting ensemble and a self-contained breathing apparatus — two key pieces of equipment in shipboard firefighting. They also got to practice handling a charged fire hose, directing the stream of water, and changing the nozzle pattern.

Richter has been aboard Aspen since January 2012, and as one of the crew’s leading damage control experts she spends a lot of time teaching new crewmembers about firefighting and other vitally important aspects of shipboard life.

“I really like teaching people about damage control, so I enjoyed having the Sea Cadets onboard,” said Richter. “I think all the cadets had a lot of fun getting to do some hands-on training.”

Coast Guard Cutter Aspen, a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender homeported on Yerba Buena Island in San Francisco, Calif., was commissioned in 2002. The primary mission of Aspen’s crew is the tending of aids to navigation along the California coast between the Mexican and Oregon borders.  The crew maintains proficiency in other mission areas as well, such as oil spill recovery and search and rescue, but the crew also carries out an important law enforcement mission — interdicting drug-smuggling vessels from Mexico.

The visit by the cadets offered the crew an opportunity to showcase their many skills, and to pass along their enthusiasm and dedication to the next generation of sailors.

The U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps is a non-profit youth organization supported by the Navy League and endorsed by both the Navy and the Coast Guard. Its mission is to “expose cadets to the full rigors of a military training program and to prepare them for whatever path they may take after high school.” (www.seacadets.org).