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from Castine and Penobscot, Maine.
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by Rich Hewitt
Rescue crews from the U.S. Coast Guard were in Castine recently, but there was no emergency.
They brought up a 47-foot patrol boat from Rockland and its version of the Blackhawk search and rescue helicopter from Cape Cod as part of Coast Guard Experience Day, a program to introduce the Coast Guard to maritime academy students and interest them in a Coast Guard career.
“They’re going into the maritime industry and the Coast Guard has a big role in that industry,” said Lt. Joseph Schlosser, who oversees the nation’s seven maritime academies for the Coast Guard. “We bring in some assets and we talk about how we use them, how we interact with the maritime industry and how we affect their lives in it.”
The patrol boat tied up at the Maine Maritime Academy dock and the helicopter landed at the athletic field near Fort George and offered tours throughout the afternoon for MMA students and the general public.
According to Schlosser, those interactions also allow them to promote MARGRAD, a program that offers a fast-track, direct commission into the Coast Guard for maritime academy graduates in the license program as well as graduates from other programs who have been part of the regiment. After a shortened, five-week officer training program, those graduates receive a three-year commission as an ensign that offers them placement in most Coast Guard operations including prevention, law enforcement, drug interdiction and float operations.
That appeals to Ted Nichols, an MMA sophomore from Kennebunk who said he’s interested in using his logistics major in the Coast Guard.
“You can do logistics and not be in a cubicle,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in serving the country and I like what the Coast Guard stands for. They help people dramatically. They protect and serve.”
Nichols said having the helicopter and the patrol boat in Castine was “awesome.”
“You get to see what life is like; you can talk with the crew about what they do,” he said. “It brings it more to life.”