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Hit the Ground Running

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link   All Posts
 Katie Priesing It’s the third week of school, and everything is back in full swing. With only 251 days until graduation, I am realizing how much business is packed into first class year. I have five classes this semester: Nautical Science IV, American Government, Criminal Justice, Marine Ecology, and Coastal Oceanography. My schedule is set up nicely and I have both of my MES classes on the same days. We got qualified to take out the RHIs (rigid-hull inflatable boats) on the Thames River during my Coastal Oceanography classes. This semester I will work with two other people, and we will study the effects of currents on eddies in the Thames. It’s pretty exciting, especially since I’ve spent the last three years rowing up and down the river wondering why the water moves different ways in different areas. Dorky, yes, but it’s true!re

This weekend we’ve got the big sports events against the Merchant Marine Academy. The football, soccer, and volleyball teams are all competing to win the Secretary’s Cup. The school that wins 2/3 of the games that day wins the cup and gets the trophy. It’s exciting business! We’ve got a pep rally on Thursday, and everyone is getting bussed down to New York this weekend to watch the games.

I have not written in a while, so I’ve got plenty to say. I’ll try to phase my Navy exchange and summer experiences in periodically over the next few months. Feel free to email me (Kathleen.A.Priesing@uscga.edu) if you have specific questions about my USCGA or USNA experiences. I love both academies, and I will give you honest answers about both of them.

One thing I do want to highlight was one of the most eye opening experiences I have ever had in my life: migrant operations. This summer, a total of six cadets (including myself) were sent to the USCGC Mohawk. The Mohawk is home ported in Key West, Florida. We arrived in mid-June and spent about nine weeks on board. We got to go on patrol around the Caribbean for 31 days. We set out on July 2, and just two days later, on the 4th of July, we had our first operation. It was an Independence Day I will surely never forget.

We drove up to a sailing vessel that had what appeared to be three men on board. As we approached the vessel with homemade sails, it reciprocated its course to head back toward land. It was riding rather low in the water, and due to its suspicious behavior, our captain gave the order to lower the small boat. Upon inspection, twenty-five more people were found on the rinky-dink sailboat. We found a migrant vessel that had been underway for less than a day. Most of the people were willing to come on our ship, but three of the men stayed on their vessel. We did not have the legal jurisdiction to order them off the vessel or to arrest them. While they stayed on their poorly built sailboat, the rest of the migrants were in-processed on our flight deck. The migrants changed into white paper-like suits and got medically checked-out by the Health Services Technician on board. After we put all their belongings and clothes into plastic bags, the migrants received toothbrushes, toothpaste, and face cloths. They had to sleep under a tent on the flight deck until the Haitian Coast Guard met up with us the following day. As for the men that stayed on their vessel, we followed them back toward Haiti all night long. We were only moving at about 4 knots. It was a very long, slow night.

In the end, we had to repatriate all twenty-eight people back to Haiti. We burned their vessel because it was a hazard to navigation, and we could not give it back to them because it was unsafe and they may have just tried to use it again. That was my first experience with migrants. I will write more about my other experiences in the blogs to follow. For now I have to go read for my Criminal Justice class. Take care, I hope all is well!

More about Katie.