there are always exceptions. Have I had black, steel-toe
tactical boots leaving marks on on a pristine deck? Yes. Have
I witnessed boarding officers woefully untrained, or not
knowing how to conduct a boarding? Yes. What I am trying
to convey is that I’ve seen many instances and heard many
stories of the boarding officer or team bouncing all over a
boat with no tact, or displaying an open and apparent lack of
understanding of the mariner’s situation.
Many Coast Guard boarding officers do not come from
boating backgrounds, and until they joined the service, some
had never witnessed a body of water larger than an inland
lake. There’s no requirement for boarding officers to be
master mariners, or even possess a good understanding of
what type of vessels they are likely to encounter in their given
area of operation.
That is not to say that a boarding officer has not had extensive
on-the-job training and supervision to become qualified. His
or her performance is reviewed annually—as was mine—to
determine whether they should remain qualified as a boarding
officer, as well as whenever they are transferred to a new unit.
Later in my career, my job was to train the trainers
in matters of maritime law enforcement, personnel and
procedures. I took this as an opportunity to add to the
training regimen. I wanted to see that the senior boarding
officer in the district educated the candidates about the type
of vessels they would encounter and what these vessels would
be doing. This would inform young boarding officers about
the vagaries of the local boating scene.
In this case, the Coast Guard is boarding with local police officers
as part of a joint safety inspection that could lead to arrests if
evidence of a crime is detected.
Boarding Blues continued from page 74