I joined the Coast Guard
because my wife was in the
Navy and I wanted to join the military while also being able to save
lives and protect the marine environment. The service was an ideal fit.
Since joining the service in 2008, I
have served on the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca, based out of Boston, and
at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville,
Fla. I’ve been at my current assignment for about a year and this is by
far the biggest area of operations I
have worked at.
In a nutshell, I am responsible for
controlling all the operations and
planning for any search-and-rescue
missions in our area of operations. I
have to find a way to best utilize our
resources and assets in an effort to
have a successful response. We gen-
erally have four to five cutters and six
air stations able to respond to a case,
but our resources are quite limited for
how big an area we operate in.
In my time here, we’ve dealt with
some unique and memorable cases.
One of them that sticks out is the
rescue of Reza Baluchi in October of
2014. Baluchi was using a hamster
wheel-like device to ‘run’ from
Florida to Bermuda on the water.
We had to save him in the ocean
[about 70 miles off the coast of St.
Augustine, Fla.] because he was signaling for Coast Guard assistance.
I have had a lot of success and I
have had some [cases] where we
were unable to save someone,
despite our best efforts. The rescue
part is rewarding, while the searching is difficult.
It’s very challenging dealing with
international partners because
every country has their own rules
and regulations and policies and
procedures for what their country
does for search and rescue. A lot of
times we want to get involved, but
they have to go through the proper
channels for requesting assistance
before we can also help. I do know
that our area of operation is very
different than most in the Coast
Guard. In my entire time here I’ve
never had a slow day.
Since joining the service I have
learned a number of things, but a
few stick out. One is how I handle
search-and-rescue cases. We deal
with so many types of cases I have
taught myself to try and put them
into perspective and imagine what if
that was a family member, and build
a rescue plan around those parameters, meaning thinking about the
best and most efficient way to assist
and rescue them.
I have also worked on my critical
and analytical thinking approach to
cases. We do a lot of medical evacuations from international waters,
such as cruise ships, and I have to
know, in places like the Bahamas,
where the most efficient medical
centers are located and what is the
best — and safest — way to rescue
someone in a given location.
I continue to be surprised with
the sheer multitude of missions that
we respond to. The amount of cases,
with such limited resources, is incredible. We do amazing
things every day with so little.
Petty Officer 2nd Class
Matthew C. Chancery
OPERATIONS UNIT CONTROLLER
SEVENTH COAST GUARD DISTRICT
PROFILES IN SERVICE
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 50 SEAPOWER / FEBRUARY/MARCH 2016
Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew C. Chancery, standing, in the Seventh Coast
Guard District’s operations center.