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Career Week Spotlight - LT Zachary Velasquez

Stefanie Senkow
November 9, 2021

1/c Zachary VelasquezHometown: Chula Vista, CA
Current Assignment: Detached Duty – Surface Forces Logistics Center Boston, Icebreaker, Buoy, & Construction Tender Port Engineer

NEW LONDON, Conn – He started his Coast Guard career as a Student Engineer on CGC JOHN MIDGETT and is now Detached Duty – Surface Forces Logistics Center Boston, Icebreaker, Buoy, & Construction Tender Port Engineer. Now LT Velasquez returns to his roots at the Coast Guard Academy to inspire cadets during Career Week.

What were your responsibilities as a student engineer?

My primary responsibilities were to learn as much as possible about the Cutter’s operating systems, USCG operations, and all things Naval Engineering. I also acted as the Damage Control Assistant (DCA) onboard, training 160 personnel to effectively respond to shipboard casualties.

Describe a memorable career moment.

Responding to a Crank Case Explosion as the Damage Control Assistant on CGC JOHN MIDGETT. While enjoying dinner in the wardroom, a smoke alarm went off, followed by “EO to Main Control!” All the junior officers started to get up to follow suit, but we were redirected when General Emergency sounded. I proceeded to Damage Control Central (DCC) and seamlessly went through the motions as if it were any other drill we practiced. “Now this is the DCA, I have assumed all Damage Control Responsibilities onboard. Make all Reports to DCC!” Being the one to make all Damage Control pipes onboard, I had to remain calm and collected to not cause unnecessary duress of the crew while relaying important information. I then orchestrated the various repair lockers to set up fire boundaries, stage gear, and manage personnel. The fire was thankfully localized to the engine, with engine room watch standers cooling the engine with a mix of firefighting extinguishers. After a grueling 6 hours everything was cleaned up as best as possible.

What do you do now as Detached Duty – Surface Forces Logistics Center Boston, Icebreaker, Buoy, & Construction Tender Port Engineer?

I plan, schedule, and execute large depot repair availabilities for 17 assets in New England.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career?

Accepting that situations occur outside of your control and there are plenty of resources and shipmates to assist. Learn from your mistakes and roll with the punches.

What is the best part about Coast Guard life?

The best part is being able to travel on the Government’s dime (Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, Florida, Canada, Ireland, London, New England and transferred across the country twice).

Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known when you were a first class cadet?

Go afloat your first tour even if you are considering aviation or prevention. It will give you a deeper understanding of Coast Guard asset capabilities, workforce challenges, and operation logistics to make better informed decisions in your career.

What advice can you give first class cadets about careers?

Take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way and have fun. Some of the best memories and experiences I’ve had are from going outside my comfort zone to learn a new skill, explore a new area, or meet new people.

Discover where a Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering degree can lead to.