Coast Guard buoy deck supervisor: BDS small title, large responsibility

d7The 24-year old’s black bun is tightly wound underneath a grimy yellow hard hat. Her meticulous French-tipped nails are hidden by mechanics gloves. She raises her arm and signals the crane operator to raise the chain from the bottom of Florida’s Tampa Bay. For hours, she yells, with conviction, over the howling wind and directs her shipmates to move heavy chain, scrape buoys, hammer shackles, and complete the mission.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Sanchez uses hand signals to direct a crane operator during an aids to navigation evolution aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Joshua Appleby, home-ported in Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., Jan. 7, 2015. Sanchez is a qualified buoy deck supervisor in charge of ensuring every ATON evolution is held to the Coast Guard's standards. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ashley J. Johnson)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Sanchez uses hand signals to direct a crane operator during an aids to navigation evolution aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Joshua Appleby, home-ported in Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., Jan. 7, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ashley J. Johnson)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Sanchez is a buoy deck supervisor aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Joshua Appleby, homeported at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Florida. Aboard the Appleby, buoy deck supervisors are young, junior Coast Guard members with large responsibilities.

The largest responsibility of a buoy deck supervisor is to ensure each aids-to-navigation evolution is done to the standards the Coast Guard has set, said Master Chief Petty Officer Chris Purdy, the executive petty officer aboard the Appleby.

“It is imperative for the safety of not only the cutter but more importantly the people on the buoy deck,” said Purdy.

Purdy said if the buoy deck supervisors are not doing something right, up to 18,000 pounds of swinging equipment could end up hurting someone.

Yet, Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Peters, another young buoy deck supervisor, said that he’s not afraid of the pounds of responsibilities because he believes in his shipmates to do their respective jobs safely and accurately: jobs he’s been teaching them to do.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Peters uses hand signals to direct a crane operator where to move chain aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Joshua Appleby, home-ported in Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., Jan. 6, 2015. Buoy deck supervisors aboard the Appleby are in charge of ensuring every aids to navigation evolution is held to the Coast Guard's standards and procedures. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ashley J. Johnson)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Peters uses hand signals to direct a crane operator where to move chain aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Joshua Appleby, home-ported in Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., Jan. 6, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ashley J. Johnson)

“It wasn’t until here when I really got a good chance to lead an entire crew around for an extended amount of time,” said Peters. “As a coxswain it was four hours here, six hours there. Now, I get to watch them grow and learn every day.”

Sanchez said being a leader on the Appleby has been rewarding.

“It is rewarding because you’re teaching them how to become a petty officer,” said Sanchez. “You want them to be somewhat like you.”

Although they will all grow to lead their own way, watching them develop their own leadership skills is satisfying said Peters.

“I think the best part about it is watching them being able to teach,” said Peters. “Knowing you got them to a point where they were finally able to teach somebody else: that’s the awesome part about being a supervisor.”

In addition to watching their shipmates thrive, both Peters and Sanchez said they enjoy being a part of the Appleby.

Both buoy deck supervisors wake up with their shipmates, eat dinner with their shipmates, play games with their shipmates, and ensure the safety and well being of their shipmates. Neither of them will leave the buoy deck until the mission is complete.

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One Comment

  1. Amanda says:

    #askhermore