YORKTOWN, Va. – Forty students from 28 partner nations graduated from the International Maritime Officers Course Thursday at Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown, marking the largest graduating class in the school’s 17-year history.
Vice Adm. Manson K. Brown, the deputy commandant for Mission Support, and Capt. Reed Stephenson, the commanding officer of Training Center Yorktown, officiated the 48th graduation of the base’s International Maritime Officer’s Course.
The commanding officer of the Liberian Coast Guard was a member of the graduating class, as was, for the first time in the school’s history, an Iraqi naval officer. Additionally, the class conducted the school’s first official visits to the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., and Coast Guard Recruit Training Center Cape May, N.J.
Many of the graduating students were joined by representatives from their respective home nations, including ambassadors from the embassies of Liberia and Suriname and senior military and civilian leaders from twelve countries. The class was led by their honor graduate, Lt. Cmdr. Ronald Alfred, an officer in the Trinidad and Tobago coast guard.
“I most enjoyed the instruction on search and rescue and incident command structures, such as those used in oil spill responses,” said Alfred. “In addition to the excellent, professional training, this experience created friendship and bonds between 28 nations for future cooperation. This experience shows that despite cultural differences, we can all work together to achieve a common goal.”
The ceremony’s presiding official, Brown, noted the common interests between the international officers and their U.S. Coast Guard partners and congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments.
“As you continue your service while wearing the cloth of your nation, I extend the best wishes of your friends and colleagues in the United States Coast Guard to each of you,” said Brown. “You have inspired our respect, our admiration and our friendship. Using our bonds of shared experience, trust and friendship, we must continue to work together as world maritime professionals.”
As deputy commandant for mission support, Brown is responsible for all facets of support for the Coast Guard’s diverse mission set through oversight of human capital, lifecycle engineering, acquisitions, telecommunications and information technology, and 13 support bases around the nation.
Supported by the Department of State and as a component within Training Center Yorktown’s resident International Training Division, the 15-week course provides professional military education for international maritime officers by providing an in-depth overview of the U.S. Coast Guard organization and the planning and management of its missions. Students are exposed to a series of seminars, instructional lessons and field studies programs and activities covering a variety of topics, including maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, maritime safety and response, international law, port security, crisis management and military leadership.
Consistent with the Coast Guard’s international, cooperative missions throughout the world, the course also provides students American cultural experiences in an environment designed to foster bonds of friendship. Since its founding in 1995, 971 international military officers from 115 partner nations have graduated from the International Maritime Officers Course.