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Siblings In Command

Stefanie Senkow
April 5, 2021

cadet in Leamy HallFrom left to right, LT Sam Roets, Commanding Officer of CGC STEELHEAD and LT Lydia Roets, Commanding Officer of USCGC SANIBEL

NEW LONDON, Conn – The siblings that command together stand together. Lieutenant Lydia Roets and Lieutenant Sam Roets, sister and brother Commanding Officers, are proof.

Wisconsin natives Lydia and Sam began their Coast Guard careers in 2013 and 2016, respectively, after graduating from the Academy. Now both command their own ships in Sector Southeastern New England.

How did you find the Coast Guard Academy?

Lydia: After attending a Youth Leadership Program at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, I became very interested in attending a service academy. Our dad was the Chief of Police in our hometown and hired LCDR Raymond Kingsley, who temporarily separated from the Coast Guard. LCDR Kingsley talked to me about the Coast Guard and its missions. I knew it would be the right fit for me.

Sam, did you want to follow in Lydia’s footsteps?

Sam: At first, I was very interested in attending West Point. During my junior year I visited Lydia at the Academy and was really surprised at how tight knit the cadets were. I also saw that unlike West Point, they were able to be involved with multiple extra-curricular activities and had a great set up for travel and experience during cadet summers. I was also introduced to the triathlon team, which was another huge factor in ultimately choosing the Academy.

How did your relationship grow as cadets?

Lydia: Like the friendships that you form as a cadet through shared experience, our bond grew at the Academy. It was nice to have someone that not only understood your background but you didn’t have to explain acronyms or cadet nuances to.

I also paid for our trips to eat at Dry Dock.

What role did your relationship play in making billet selections?

Sam: Hearing Lydia’s description of her time onboard CGC DECISIVE sold the Medium Endurance Cutter to me as a great platform for a first tour. It was small enough to build close relationships with the entire crew and actively take a role in all the missions, but large enough to still experience long patrols and exciting missions.

Lydia: We both knew we wanted to go back afloat for this current tour and put in choices that would allow us to do so close to each other. It was still a surprise when we ended up in the same sector!

Did either of you help the other overcome any major challenges as Coast Guard officers?

Lydia: Throughout our time as Commanding Officers, we have consistently bounced ideas and solutions off each other. We know we have the “ready to go” perspective of someone who is familiar with the job, but not personally involved in the situation; which gives us a great third party point of view. We both feed information to each other regarding best locations for patrols. We truly strengthen each other’s leadership ability by holding each other to the highest standard.

How has the Coast Guard strengthened your relationship?

Sam: We certainly have grown to appreciate each other as not only siblings but also professionals. We have always been a bit competitive and that helps us push each other to do more and try new things. Once I saw Lydia had started grad school, I knew I wanted to try as well and it was a race to the finish (she won by a month). It has also been great to have someone there to remind you that even on the stressful days we both have incredible jobs that neither of us would have predicted when growing up.

See what it’s like to command a patrol boat! Watch United States Coast Guard Academy - Career: Patrol Boat Captain on Vimeo.

Lydia serves as Commanding Officer of USCGC SANIBEL in Woods Hole, MA, and Sam serves as Commanding Officer of CGC STEELHEAD out of Newport, RI. SANIBEL is a 110 foot Island Class Patrol Board; STEELHEAD is an 87 foot Marine Protector Class Patrol Boat. Learn more about the ships and aircrafts of the USCG.