Surface Operations Best Practices

Night Operations Presentation

Tue, 09 Dec 14   Posted by: Jim McCarty

The newly approved Night Surface Operations PowerPoint Presentation Guide is now available at this link. This presentation is the direct result of requests from the field. We on the national staff are here to serve you, the crews on the water.  The presentation is also available as a PDF file at this link.

This presentation is not a requirement or new policy. It is designed as a tool for training and improving our professional seamanship skills. It is intended to be given in any of three modes and should take no more than 30 minutes;

1- Stand alone training such as member training at Flotilla meetings
2- Supplement to the National OPS workshop, or any local OPS workshops that are conducted yearly
3- Supplement to the mandatory TCT workshop

It is recommended that the presenter(s) familiarize themselves with the content, particularly the NTSB report of the fatal USCG accident in San Diego as there is a slide on that and it may prompt questions and discussion. The NTSB report can be found here:

Helo Ops Best Practice

In line with our Night Operations Presentation please so be sure to review the Helicopter Best Practices by clicking on the link below:

Helicopter Ops Best Practices 



Thu, 27 Sep 12   Posted by: Gary Taylor

Wondering about what the difference is between SABOT, Operations Excellence, and RFO (Ready for Operations)?  Take a look at this comparison from D7 - Comparison of District 9E SABOT, District 7 AUX-RFO and Operational Excellence

More Info on SABOT

The SABOT Job Aid and the Curriculum outline are now both on the 9ER WEB site.  SABOT is a best practices on Standard Boat Operator Training in use in the 9th District.  It is not a National Program, but is recognized and supported by the National Response Directorate staff.  To access the most current information:

    Click on this link -


    Helm and Line Handling Commands

    This document details the specific standard commands that should be used when giving direction to the helmsmen or to your line handlers.  Standard phraseology governing orders to the helmsman or your line handlers is required to ensure orders are understood and promptly executed.  Learn and practice this standard terminology.  Also included in this document is a refresher on standard plotting symbols that should be used when laying out a course or DR plot.


    Ninth District Standardized Auxiliary Boat Operations Training (SABOT) Job Aid

    This SABOT Job Aid standardizes the training process and provides a step-by-step guide for various Auxiliary boat evolutions.  It should be used as a training tool to help mitigate some of the risk and to create a safer mission environment in which the Auxiliary works.

    The use of this job aid is optional, everyone involved in Auxiliary small boat operations and training are strongly encouraged to read and employ the use of this SABOT job aid.  This tool should assist us in achieving our goal of professionalism.  Qualification is a significant step in your professional development.  Being qualified, however, is only the first step.

    This tool should help you to meet the goal of ADM Papp as stated in his “State of the Coast Guard Address” delivered on 10 FEB 2011; “Qualification does not make you proficient.  It does not make you an expert.  The maritime environment makes any human endeavor more complex and more challenging.  We can not stop at qualification.  We need to change our focus.  "We need to train to PROFICIIENCY and retain proficiency.”

    What if my AOR does not have a standard GAR form?

    Check with your Coast Guard Order Issuing  Authority first.  If they do not have a GAR (Green, Amber, Red, Mission risk assessment) form use the form at this link.   As noted on the form total scores above 20 are a concern and should only be taken if the need and importance of the mission outweighs the risk.  Your first responsibility is always to the safety of the team NOT the completion of the mission.  Any single item scoring a 5 or more should also be evaluated carefully.

    How do I maintain and service an Inflatable PFD?

    Inflatable PFD Mysteries Exposed.  Stu Soffers, N-MS, has written a very informative tutorial on inflatable PFDs. This vital document is posted on the Boating Department website.

    Quick Disconnect Towline for Towing with PWC

    My PWC towlines are made from 1/2 inch three strand nylon and are about 30 feet over all in length including splices and hardware. On one end I have spliced into a carabiner (Wichard auto lock carabiner, 2006 West Marine Catalog page 854) which gets attached to the trailer eye on the towed PWC. I have a loop of nylon webbing on the carabiner to reeve through the trailer eye to facilitate the hookup in case it is difficult to get the carabiner into the trailer eye.

    Webbing is great stuff, and I always carry extra (tubular nylon webbing, page 912 West Marine. Tie the ends together with a water knot!). The other end is spliced into the fixed bail of a forged swivel snap shackle (page 856 of West Marine. The Wichard snap shackle molded thimble eye for 1/2" line works well. The Wichard quick release shackle is better, because it will release better under a strain but is expensive.)  The opening snap assembly is attached to the water-ski towing eye on the stern of the towing PWC.

    Once again a piece of webbing may be rove through the installed towing device to facilitate hookup. This depends on how tight the snap shackle fits and releases from the water-ski towing device on the PWC. Remember the line will be under a good deal of strain from the tow, so you want a smooth release. It is best to design and test your quick release system to see how effectively it works. You may have to pull pretty hard to actuate the pin to release the snap.

    Splice a piece of small nylon about 3 feet long into the split ring on the snap shackle pin. Put a small plastic line stopper ball (West Marine page 884) on the other end of the small nylon and fairlead it up to the seat area where it is accessible. There are 6 colors available.  Use a contrasting color to what ever your seat color is. This is your emergency breakaway pendent to release the towline in case of emergency.

    I keep the towline hooked up on my PWC water-ski towing eye with nylon webbing for a quicker, cleaner release. The rest of the towline is stowed in a nylon bag that is attached to the after hand hold on the rear of most seats. This keeps it out of the way, but ready for quick deployment.  I know a lot of people may use polypropylene line because it floats. That's fine!  I personally hate polypro, and stick with nylon.

    Before splicing the towline, slide on three 5"x3" Kwik tec buoys (West Marine page 222) then splice ends onto carabiner and snap hook. After splicing, slide one buoy each up onto the throat of the splice at each end. The third buoy is attached in the middle of the line. These buoys keep the line afloat and ready for recovery if you do the emergency disconnect.

    These have worked for me and the PWC Pirates in D11S. I have made about 12 such set-ups and passed them along. Since I am no longer OTO, I don't have a budget to go out and buy the stuff in bulk and make them up. The towline can get expensive because of the stainless fittings, but it's best to use good stuff, don't use junk, it will break. Make sure it's safe working load is up to the task, no cheap carabiners from KMart.

    I am not a salesperson for West Marine, but they are one stop shopping for everything I need, and it's in stock!  Splice away my friend.....

    CWO Jeff Gunn, USCG Retired

    Request Permission to Tow and Carry Extra Equipment

    Submitted by Bruce Long ADSO _Operations Division 8, 5NR

    We were on a routine patrol in the ICW near Cape May, N.J., awaiting another OPFAC for a training evolution, when Station Cape May called us to respond to a situation near marker 475.  Arriving on scene, we saw the occupants of the small pleasure boat standing in  shallow water attempting to bail out their boat that had been swamped by the wake of a larger boat.  

    The occupants of the swamped boat requested a tow to Sunset Beach (about a mile from our position).  We immediately advised the occupants to don their PFDs and called Station Cape May to request permission to tow.  Station Cape May responded with instructions not to tow for fear that the vessel would sink in the channel during the tow and become a hazard to navigation.  After advising the crew of the disabled boat that we were not permitted to tow them, we provided enough buckets to bail out their vessel. We maintained station as they began to bail.  After some time, they were dry enough to proceed to their dock in Sunset Lake by use of oars.  We remained in the area (as instructed by Station Cape May) until they had finally arrived at their slip and secured their vessel.

    Surface Mishap Data, CG Safety and Work Life Center

    The Chief Director of Auxiliary office has recently released Auxiliary Surface Operations mishap data covering the years 2006 to 2016 inclusive; the source of this data is the CG Safety and Work-life Service Center in Norfolk, VA.

    This data should be used to augment the Response Directorate’s Mishap Analysis report issued in May of 2014, and the Supplemental Report issued in Sept. 2015. These reports are found on the response Directorate Safety Best practices button on the left side of the Directorate site.

    Please ensure that this data, and the Response Directorate data is used to develop training needs analyses pertaining to your District, Divisions and Flotillas.

    Local mishap analysis should inform and support local operations Workshops, training and safety discussions throughout your AOR.

    Surface Mishaps Info 2006 thru 2016