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Join The USCG AuxiliaryOur MissionRelated LinksSafety InformationMember Training


Small Boat Seamanship Training


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If you want participate surface patrols with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, you need to complete the training required to be a qualified Boat Crewmember.  Here is how you go about that.


Frequently Asked Questions:


1.        What does the Member Training Program do for me?


    1. It provides a training pathway to prepare you to become a boat crewmember that can serve on afloat patrols.  Further training can learn to certification as coxswain—i.e. patrol boat skipper.


2.         What sort of afloat patrols can a boat crew qualified member go on?


    1. Venue patrols (maritime safety checks of our area of operation)
    2. Regatta patrols
    3. ATON patrols (inspecting maritime aids to navigation)
    4. Derelict patrols (inspecting known abandoned vessels for evidence of sinking or leakage of oil or gas)
    5. Training patrols (patrols wherein trainees learn and demonstrate their competence in the required steps of training)
    6. SAR patrols (Search And Rescue patrols)
    7. Maritime safety patrols (e.g. evaluating a reported possible oil spill)
    8. Training with active duty and reserve Coast Guard and Navy personnel
    9. Miscellaneous othersTop Of This Page


3.        How do I get started?


    1.     First, you must become BQ (basic qualified) that means that you have to

      take an approved boating safety class.  If you have not taken such a class,

      speak with your FSO-PE, who can tell you what classes are available

      locally, where and when.


What is the next step in getting boat crew qualified?


    1. The elements of the training include textbook work, practical dockside and/or afloat training, self-assessment exercises, review of selected topics with a mentor who will certify on a sign-off sheet that you know the material and a final evaluation of your knowledge and capabilities by a Coast Guard Auxiliary Qualifications Examiner.


4.            What materials do I need?Top Of This Page


    1. The Coast Guard will provide you for free a CD with all of the training material (boat crew and coxswain) on it.  The reason that the CG will give you a CD instead of the printed version of the manual is that the CD costs the Coast Guard 20 cents while the printed manual costs the CG $40!  Unfortunately, training material on the CD prints out to over 1000 pages—which will choke your printer! (Auxiliary Boat Crew Qualification Guide, Volume I: Crew Member, COMDTINST M16794.52A) and for coxswain (Auxiliary Boat Crew Qualification Guide, Volume II: Coxswain, COMDTINST M16794.53A) for PWC Operator (Auxiliary Boat Crew Qualification Guide, Volume III: PWC Operator, COMDTINST M16794.54A)


    1. The Small Boat Seamanship Manual has been re-published by International Marine/McGraw-Hill (re-titled "Small Boat Seamanship Manual") and have made it available online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  The content is identical to the Coast Guard manual.  The editor is Richard Aarons and the ISBN is 0-07-146882-X.  A new copy sells for $20 with a variable selection of used copies available for less.  This book is identical to the official Coast Guard training manual but more compact and less expensive.  However, it does not include the sign off sheets needed to certify that you have passed each required step of learning.


    1. You can purchase this manual at:


d.   The sign-off sheets for the boat crew qualifications must be printed off the

      CD onto your printer.  See Boat Crew Training appendices and enclosures from for more information.Top Of This Page


5.           Fine.  Now how do I get the training?

Meet at times of mutual convenience with a mentor who will review the material stipulated in the sign-off sheets with you.  Such a mentor must be a currently qualified boat crewman or coxswain. The key thing is to meet all of the training requirements and demonstrate your mastery of the material.


6.          After I become a boat crewmember, how do I advance to coxswain?


    1. The procedure is the same except that the breadth and depth of the required material to be mastered is much greater.


    1. In addition, a member must have served as a boat crewmember under orders for no less than 28 hours to be eligible for advancement to coxswain.


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7.       I have a boat.  After I become boat crew qualified, can I function as the coxswain (i.e. the skipper) of my boat on a patrol?


    1. No.  On every patrol, the crew requires a currently certified coxswain who is in charge.  However, traditionally, the boat owner drives the boat during departure and docking.


8.         What about uniforms?


    1. Training that is underway under Coast Guard orders require that the crew be in appropriate uniform with the required personal protective equipment.  Appropriate uniform means either the ODU or long tropical blue uniforms.  Steel toe boots are recommended but not required for the Auxiliary.  Dark colored sneakers or boat shoes are acceptable. Go to the Aux Uniform Distribution Center for ordering information.


    1. During dockside training or afloat training that is not under Coast Guard orders, the ODU uniform is recommended but not required. See the following links The U.S. Coast Guard Operation Dress Uniform (ODU)  How To Wear The ODU Uniform



9.       How long does it take to become boat crew qualified?Top Of This Page


    1. That all depends on how you do it.  It you attend the Boat Crew Academy; four months on mostly weekend work should do it.


    1. It you earn your qualifications by working with individual mentors and work hard, you can become qualified in a few weeks.  Coxswain qualifications take much longer to complete.


10.     Do I have to be boat crew qualified to go on a patrol?


    1. Not usually.  An individual who is working on his/her boat crew qualifications can go along as a trainee once they are BC and pass the swim test.  There are a few exceptions such as operational exercises with the active duty/reserve Coast Guard and/or Navy.


11.      What is TCT and how do I get the training?


    1. TCT stands for Team Coordination Training.  It is an all day, 8-hour, course taught by the Coast Guard and its Auxiliary staff to all active duty, reserve and auxiliary members.  It specifies the principals needed to work closely, effectively and harmoniously together as a boat crew or an aircrew.  Completion of this training is required before a person can be certified as a boat crewmember. 
    2. TCT is taught during one day of the Boat Crew Academy and at other selected times during the year. A one-hour TCT refresher class is required for all coxswains and boat crewmembers every year. 2008 TCT Power Point Presentation.Top Of This Page


    1. All boat crewmembers and coxswains must take an annual Operations Workshop. Click the links for the Operations Workshop 2008 Facilitator Slide Notes and 2008 Operations Workshop PowerPoint Slides.


12.      What is ICS training and how do I get that?


    1. ICS 100 and 700 are two online courses offered by FEMA on their web site.  They stipulate how the Incident Command System is intended to function at the time of a local, regional or national emergency.  An Auxiliarist must pass the online courses before he/she can be certified as a boat crewmember.
    2. Coxswains must pass ICS 200 and 800 as well. It is worth remembering that the Coast Guard Auxiliary is the only volunteer organization that serves under the command of the Department of Homeland Security.

The FEMA training site has at E-training including: ICS-100   ICS-200 , IS-700 and IS-800 courses.


13.      How often are patrols available?


    1. The summer time is the busiest time and patrols are frequent.  The current plan for 2008 is to have at least as many patrols as needed to assist the Coast Guard and to meet all training requirements for those who want to achieve and/or maintain their boat crew and coxswain certifications.Top Of This Page


14.       Is this going to be fun?Top Of This Page


    1. You bet.  You will learn a great deal about boating, you will contribute to the safety and welfare of the boating community and your country, and you will develop some great friendships along the way. 


Like Anything Else, You Will Get Out Of It What You Put Into It!



Semper Paratus

We Need You -- The Coast Guard Auxiliary is called upon to provide essential services to the Coast Guard as they focus more heavily on their military missions.  We need all the help we can get.  You needn't own a boat or be an experienced boater, since our missions are wide-ranging.  For information about Auxiliary missions and the Auxiliary in general, go to our Join the Auxiliary web page.  You will find there a form through which you can ask that a local Auxiliarist make contact with you to explore the ways in which you can assist Team Coast Guard.



U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Click here for U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary home pageHudson River Rat


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