PROFILES IN SERVICE
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 40 SEAPOWER / FEBRUARY 2014
turn, they put their lives on the line
to save people, it’s truly humbling.
One thing that has changed is
the technology. Trying to keep up
and learn all the new technology
coming in can be difficult. There
are always updates coming in and
just staying on top of it and trying
to make sure that you have at least
some semblance of knowledge of
what’s going on is important.
The most rewarding part about
my job is working with such dedicated people. I don’t say that lightly.
For me, and I sound like a broken record, it’s all about the people.
You can have the newest and fastest
ship, but if you don’t have somebody with character and a drive to
be proficient and want to be the best
at what they do, you will never get
anywhere. You can have one of the
oldest ships in the fleet, which I did,
and still sail into an Arctic storm to
go save some lives and you do it
with the confidence that everybody
is rolling in the same direction and
working as a team to get there safely
and execute the mission.
As long as you invest in those
people’s future and you take the
time to get to know them and
make sure they are provided with
an atmosphere that, on a daily
basis, they can come and be positive and feel respected and valued
for their input to the organization,
there is no stopping it.
There will be lean times and
there will be flush times, but it’s
the people who stand through it
and that’s where you need to
direct and invest your time
I am the commanding officer of
Coast Guard Cutter Northland. She
is a 270-foot Medium-Endurance
Cutter [WMEC- 38]. We have a
variety of missions. You name it, we
do it — everything from search and
rescue, to law enforcement, to illegal migrant interdiction, to fisheries
enforcement. Whatever needs to be
done, we do it.
I don’t know if I’ve had a ‘most
challenging job,’ because every time I
step into a new job and take on additional responsibilities it’s a new challenge. Every time has been something new, and it’s been a challenge.
That’s actually what I love about it.
Once I get things mastered and they
become routine and easy, I get bored.
I actually thrive on challenges. I don’t
look at the challenges as a bad thing,
I look at them as an obstacle to overcome. The challenge is a challenge.
The most unusual challenge I’ve
ever faced was when I was com-
manding officer of one of our 110-
foot patrol boats, Coast Guard
Cutter Aquideneck [WPB-1336]. I
At the time, this was unusual for
the Coast Guard. It had been done
in Vietnam, but those personnel
were retiring or had retired from the
Coast Guard. No one had done this
in recent memory. Everything over
there was new, it was a challenge
and we had to adapt on the fly.
What I love at this point — it’s
really about the people. It’s really a
small community. Every time you go
somewhere, you meet someone, you
either know them from previously or
you have a mutual shipmate in common. You get to see these folks come
up through the ranks and succeed.
There was a non-rated member
who was a driver for ADM [James]
Loy [Coast Guard commandant,
1998-2002] back when I was a lieu-
tenant junior grade on the com-
mandant’s staff, now he’s the opera-
tions officer of one of cutters I was
just working with out at sea. It’s
great to get to know these neat peo-
ple, see them advance, see them
learn, see them grow and work with
them. It really starts to become a
family, not so much a job.
I’ve got a rather interesting challenge ahead of me. The Coast Guard
is sending me to be a national security affairs fellow at the Hoover
Institution, which is Stanford University’s think tank. It’s a one-year
special assignment. While Stanford
University has had DoD [Department of Defense] officers, a handful
every year for a while now, I’ll be the
first Coast Guardsman to go do this.
And so I’ll be somewhat of a guinea
pig. I’m going to step in and see how
I can help.
I am a cutterman; I want to get
back to sea. We have new National
Security Cutters [NSCs], hopefully
shortly, eventually, we’ll get to
eight of these, and it’s very competitive because there are a lot people
like me eyeballing these new ships.
I would love to command
one of the NSCs.
CDR Holly R. Harrison
(continued from page 39)
CAPT Andrew M. Sugimoto
(continued from page 38)