I’m originally from Pine Valley, Calif., and
I joined the Coast Guard because I wanted
to be involved in search and rescue (SAR).
I was in flight school and realized the best
way to really get involved in SAR was to join
the Coast Guard.
Now that I’m in, I’ve veered away from aviation and
have become more and more interested in seamanship,
which is why I’m planning to go the Boatswain’s Mate
(BM) route. Since BMs are highly involved in SAR, it
seems like a good choice to me. More than anything,
I just want a job where I go home feeling like I’ve
accomplished something at the end of the day.
The Polar Star is my first unit — I’m here fresh
from boot camp. It has been a great place to get experience and travel a little while trying to figure out
what to do with my Coast Guard career. I’ve been
lucky enough to visit Honolulu, Sydney and McMurdo
Station, Antarctica … not too shabby for hardly a year
in the Coast Guard under my belt.
I am a part of the ship’s deck force. We are responsible for all mooring evolutions, standing helm and
lookout while the ship is underway, and a lot of basic
ship maintenance. Since I want to be a BM, the BMs in
deck force often let me work with them on rescue and
survival gear, the ship’s life rings, lifejackets, pyrotechnics and such, learning marlinspike seamanship
skills and doing small boat checks.
One thing I have learned so far is you can do and
accomplish anything if you apply yourself; it was true
in boot camp and it’s true on a cutter. And you can
always do more and go further than you think you can.
If you had told me a year ago that I would be on
an icebreaker at the South Pole, I would never have
believed you. Now, I’d tell you that’s just the begin-
ning, and who knows what I’ll get to do next. And if
the Polar Star can keep doing her mission, barreling
through ice for 40 years and still run, I’m pretty sure I
The camaraderie has surprised me most since joining the service. Everyone talks about the military being
a brotherhood, or sisterhood, and it really is. I really,
truly expected for it to be harder to find my niche in a
workplace that is largely male dominated.
Instead, I’ve felt very welcomed and nurtured and I
know that’s largely because of the Coast Guard’s insistence on equal opportunity. I’ve had lots of moments
to be thankful for and the men and women I work with
make it even more special. n
Seaman Autumn Gass
U.S. COAST GUARD CUTTER POLAR STAR
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 49 SEAPOWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2017