Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center receives Kimball Award

Story by Lt. Julie E. Sieker and Seaman Nicole Groll

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Members of the Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center Boat Tactics Branch, located at Camp Lejeune, N.C., stand with some of their small boats at the base.

On April 18, 2013, members of the Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center Boat Tactics Branch, located at Camp Lejeune, N.C., were presented with the Sumner I. Kimball Readiness Award by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Michael P. Leavitt. This is the second time in a row that the SMTC BTB has been awarded this honor.The Sumner I. Kimball Readiness Award is named in honor of Sumner Kimball, who served as the Chief of the Treasury Department’s Revenue Marine Division in 1871. Kimball’s legacy is rooted in his maximizing operational efficiency and minimizing expenditures within the Revenue Marine. He put a stop to the Revenue Marine’s disorganization and designed a series of regulations that set standards for personal performance, physical fitness and station routines. Today, the award is given in recognition for an extraordinary state of readiness in administration, operations, maintenance and training. To receive the Kimball Award, a unit must exceed Commandant Readiness requirements. At present only 10% of the Coast Guard’s boat force units have received the award.

The significance of the SMTC BTB being the recipient of this award rests in the exceptional maintenance of a fleet of 34 small boats, the largest fleet in the Coast Guard. These boats consist of the 23-foot Cutter Boat – Over the Horizon, the 25-foot Response Boat –Small and the 32-foot – Special Purpose Craft- Law Enforcement. These assets are used for the two tactical boat classes taught at the SMTC BTB; the Tactical Coxswain Course and the Non-Compliant Vessel Pursuit Course. A total of 14 small boats were inspected for the Standardization Team (STAN) inspection.

“Nobody has that number of boats in the Coast Guard,” said Levitt while presenting the Kimbell Award to the crew. “You all should be proud of yourselves.”

Further emphasizing SMTC BTB’s fleet size, the crew maintains five to seven times the average number of boats and crew certifications as an operational unit, but with only twice the number of personnel. Preparing for a STAN inspection is a monumental task that can only be successfully completed with a robust year-round training and maintenance program and excellent leadership at all levels.

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Members of the Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center Boat Tactics Branch, located at Camp Lejeune, N.C., proudly display their Kimball Award at the base.

STAN inspectors administered written tests to 38 Coxswains covering Operations & Missions, Boat Specifications, Small Boat Piloting & Navigation, Survival & First Aid and Navigation Rules. By platform, the Coxswain test averages were: RB-S – 91.8%, OTH – 88.9% and SPC/LE – 84.8%. All test scores were at least 10% higher than Coast Guard average written test scores.

In addition, 108 underway drills were conducted with 107 passing, resulting in a 99% success rate. SMTC BTB received a perfect score in Rescue and Survival Systems for Documentation, Preventative Maintenance Schedule, and issuance and material condition on over 1,000 pieces of in-service R&S equipment. One discrepancy for material condition on any one piece of gear would have resulted result in a 40% reduction in score. A perfect score was also earned in Training Program for Administration, Certifications and Currency.

“We get docked for dead batteries, any loose hardware and even problems with the boat trailer,” explained Chief Petty Officer Frank Wink, a boatswains mate at the SMTC BTB.

In preparation for the inspection, SMTC BTB crew members and engineers performed a series of checks and balances against one another. Using a printed inspection guidance sheet, the boats were thoroughly scrutinized one by one; all discrepancies were then recorded and meticulously repaired.
“Engineers went over an average of 400 inspection items on each of the boats and trailers that were inspected,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Anthony Dowd, a machinery technician.“The inspection is so critical that a trailer tire being one PSI off, low or high, would result in a discrepancy with that item.”

In addition to maintaining the largest fleet in the Coast Guard, SMTC BTB faced another major challenge when preparing for this year’s inspection: training classes on deck. Boats were rotated though the repair bays day after day to make sure they were fully operational for supporting the classes, in addition to maintaining inspection-level readiness. Boats required repairs on a constant basis due to daily wear and tear. Maintaining superb readiness for a 34-boat fleet with classes on deck is indeed a significant achievement for the skilled and dedicated members of SMTC BTB.

SMTC is the Coast Guard’s Deployable Specialized Forces and Tactical Boat Operations High Risk Training Center of Excellence, and develops and delivers training and training material to improve performance, ensure safety, proficiency and standardization in the tactical communities it serves.

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