The Bristol Bay is generally crewed with a complement of three officers and twentyfour enlisted personnel. The Commanding Officer (CO) ,Lt. Commander Joseph McGuiness , and Executive Officer (XO) ,Lieutenant Alan Birch, are the senior personnel on the ship. Under the CO and the XO, the ship is organized in three divisions: Operations (OPS), Deck, and Engineering.
Commanding Officer (CO) | | Executive Officer (XO) | | ---------------------------------------------- | | | OPS Officer Deck Officer Engineer Officer | ("First Lieutenant") | | | | Quartermasters (QM) Chief Bosun Mate (BMC) Electrician Mate Chief (EMC) Cooks (SS) Bosun Mates (BM) Machinery Techs (MK) Storekeepers (SK) Deckhands (SN) Electricians (EM) Damage Control Techs (DC)
The CO is the officer in command of the vessel, and usually the highest ranking officer. A ship of the Bristol Bay class usually is authorized a CO with a rank of Lt. Commander. The current CO is LCDR Joseph McGuiness
The XO is the officer second in command of the vessel and subordinate in rank to the CO. On the Bristol Bay the XO may be a Lieutenant or a Lieutenant Junior Grade(JG). The current XO is LT Alan Birch.
The OPS division is headed by the OPS Officer, usually a Lieutenant-JG. OPS consists of crewmen like Quartermasters (QM) (navigational specialists), Cooks, and Storekeepers. Quartermasters man the helm, shown at the left, keep the ship's plot up to date, maintain the ship's log, and handle radio communications. Cooks keep the crew well fed, and judging by some of the shipboad meals they serve, there are not too many complaints from the men about the chow on the Bristol Bay. Storekeepers manange ship's supply and property. Beside the vast amount of material that a larger ship like this can consume in a year of operation, there's always paperwork to accompany each arrival and departure of the material and personnel. Storekeepers keep all that paperwork flowing and in order. Crew in the OPS area generally work inside the ship.
The Deck division is made up of Bosuns and Deckhands (or "deckies"), headed by a "First Lieutenant", as tradition dictates this officer be called. A Chief Bosun's Mate heads this unit.
These sailors perform the on-deck work of the ship. They handle lines in docking, mooring, and towing, operate the winches and cranes, and man small boats or other over-the-sides duties on the ship. There is plenty of mechanized equipment, but some jobs, like hauling in the big shore power connecting cables, still need to be done the old fashioned way, with a good heave-ho.
The Engineering division is headed by an Engineer Officer, with typical rank of Chief Warrant Officer. CW02 Mike Soule is the current Engineer Officer, with an assistant known as the Electrician's Mate Chief (EMC). With the help of other Machinery Technicians (MK's), they keep all the mechanical equipment on the Bristol Bay in operating condition. There are a large number of systems to maintain, including diesel and electric propulsion engines, AC and DC electrical power and lighting systems, heating and cooling (boilers, air conditioners, blowers), water and waste (tankage, pumps, hoses, and fittings), hydraulic, mechanical and electrical control systems, navigation electronics, and ship communications and telephones systems.
Of course, the Engineering crew also operate all this machinery 24-hours a day, They work in areas like the Engineering Control Center (ECC), which looks like a very modern and high-tech industrial plant. However, they also have to operate equipment like the rudder emergency manual hydraulic pump, located in a very hot and cramped compartment in the lowest reaches of the ship's stern. This is manned during all close-in manuevering of the ship, like leaving or approaching a dock, so that steerage will be available even in the event of a total power failure.
Not everyone on-board is a professional military officer or enlisted man. The Bristol Bay is an active participant in the on-going training of many auxilliary crew members, drawn from four distinct groups:
Coast Guard Academy Cadets are assigned temporary ship duty for 5-6 weeks during the summer between their third and fourth year of academic preparation at the New London, Connecticut school. Under the guidance of the CO and XO, they will qualify for various duty ratings, like In-Port Officer of the Day (OOD).
Coast Guard Reserve personnel are also assigned to the Bristol Bay, where they supplement the regular crew, and often make 2-4 week voyages with the ship at various times of the year. They study and train for different ratings on board, and could be called into active duty as needed to serve the Coast Guard's mission.
Coast Guard Auxillary volunteers are brought aboard for training and involvement with regular ship operations. The Auxillary is a non-profit organization that works in conjunction with the Coast Guard to provide a public service to recreational boaters and public waterways.
Sea-Cadets are high-school-aged youths who participate in a coordinated maritime training program in their schools. They come aboard real ships like the Bristol Bay for two-week live-aboard cruises during the summer. These young people, some only 14-years old, are given exposure to potential careers in the military maritime service.
Copyright © 1996, 1997 by James W. Hebert. All rights reserved.
Page Last modified: July 31, 1997;