Over 200 members of Sea Scouts BSA, the U.S. Coast Guard and other BSA units gathered on September 7 at the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay for the 2019 “Safety at Sea” Adventure. Despite the threats posed by Hurricane Dorian all week, the weather was perfect and the scouts jumped in (literally) to a day of safety, career and environmental STEM training with volunteers from the Active Duty and Auxiliary Coast Guard.
The morning opened with a Search & Rescue demonstration from a helicopter deployed from Stations Atlantic City. The ultra-awesome blaze-orange helicopter hovered over Curtis Bay while the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer (the Coast Guard’s version of Top Gun) dangled from a harness a hundred meters below. Once that demonstration was complete, the pilot swung over to the nearby ball field and in a huge cloud of dust, landed the craft to open for tours and questions.
From there, Scouts began rotations around the base. At one station, flare training involving live flares was a huge hit. Alternating between traditional hand-held flares, or the pistol-type, scouts under the careful watch of range safety officers and trained Coast Guard professionals got to learn first-hand how to light magnesium flares in case they ever have an emergency.
Just up the dock, other Scouts put on the orange Mustang Suits – full body life jackets designed to keep them afloat and warm should they ever have to abandon their craft in ice-cold arctic waters. Across the harbor, a Damage Controlman Petty Officer 3rd Class fired up a P6 pump to teach Scouts how to either fight fires or flooding, depending on what emergency they faced. Others worked with Firemen on mastering a fire hose with target practice exercises where objects 25 meters away had to be moved with a careful stream of the powerful water jets.
Scouts also toured the Coast Guard’s famous 29 feet rigid hull inflatable Response Boat – designed for rapid deployment to emergencies, drug interdiction or other missions. Up the hill, oil was poured into a laboratory tank to demonstrate how dangerous oil spills can be, and how the Coast Guard managed both the spread and fire risk of this dangerous contaminant.
For Scouts who watched the Rescue Swimmer and asked to ride in the harness – they were introduced to the kind Coast Guard recruiting team who discussed job opportunities available. For those with grander aspirations – representatives from the prestigious Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT were available to discuss America’s only “merit only” service academy, where no congressional appointment is required. Cadets enter by their merit alone for the tuition free, paid college education.