>HAPPY BIRTHDAY ATON!
Posted by PA2 Stephen Lehmann, Friday, August 7, 2009
Believe it or not, the Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation role turns 220 today. ATON officially became a Coast Guard effort following the Lighthouses Act of 1789. Since then it’s grown into one of our most vital missions, requiring 15 aid-to-navigation teams and 27 buoy tenders in the Coast Guard’s Eighth District, alone.
I recently spoke with BM3 Gabriel Gonzalez, a crewmember of the sea-going buoy tender, USCGC Cypress. He’s only been aboard since May, but he already has a good feeling about it.
“The Cypress was one of my top picks coming out of BM ‘A’ school,” said Gonzalez. “I came from a station, so I already had the feel of that and as far as the dream sheet, I’d heard a lot of good things about black hulls, plus it’s a new platform to learn. It’s something different.”
Gonzalez also found the buoy tender had a much different crew interaction than the station life he knew.
“It seems like everybody is a lot closer,” said Gonzalez. “When you’re underway you have 40, 50 people living together at one time, so I guess they kind of have to be.”
With only a few months on the Cypress under his belt, Gonzalez admits he still has a lot to become familiar with.
“From my understanding,” said Gonzalez, “we maintain buoys, pick up buoys, move buoys and to me that’s my understanding of it so far. It’s one of those things that’s still new to me, but I’m still learning.”
With ever-changing tides, depths and currents along with the battering from passing traffic, the aids-to-navigation are in constant danger of coming out of place. Thanks to the diligent work of Guardians like Petty Officer 3rd Class Gabriel Gonzalez and everyone in the ATON field, lives are saved everyday without a helicopter ever needing to lift off or a boat crew needing to be launched.