News: Improved Work Environment
Story by Spc. Megan Burnham
By Megan Burnham
Joint Task Force Guantanamo
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – When Coast Guard Reserve Port Security Unit 305 arrived at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to begin their six-month deployment to Joint Task Force Guantanamo, they brought more than just their standard equipment for the mission.
Since the current transportable port security boats are nearing the end of their service life, a new and improved model, called a response boat small - Charlie, will become the platform for maintaining the security of Guantanamo Bay.
"You can get approximately eight to 10 years out of a hull before it needs to be replaced," said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Donald Wassler, boat division chief. "So [the Coast Guard Deployable Operations Group] made some modifications to the existing hull-type they have in production now to better suit the [Outside Continental United States] mission."
PSU 305 was picked to test the RBS in Ft. Eustis before deploying to Guantanamo Bay. The unit received the boats last May and began a three-month study to test their viability and see if they would work on a day to day basis.
"We took them underway and ran them through different scenarios and drove them to different areas," Wassler said.
The boat crews have been getting familiar with the handling of the vessel and completing the qualifications necessary to put it in everyday use.
"We are waiting for replacement parts like radios, radars, bilge pumps and parts for the motor," Wassler said. "So if something breaks, we have the parts on hand to fix them."
There are many factors that make the RBS more desirable to man than the TPSB. The greatest difference is how the RBS has an enclosed cabin that will provide more safety against the elements out on the water. Also, the cabin allows four crew members to sit in shock-mitigating seats to provide better crew comfort.
"It's a more agile boat and the crew isn't standing for their whole watch," Wassler said. "There's safety seats that keep the crew buckled in place so when they're doing tactics, there's not a risk of falling overboard."
Other benefits include heating and air conditioning inside the cabin that help the crew stay comfortable and alert while patrolling the waters in the hot and intense Guantanamo Bay weather.
"Some crew members were intimidated driving the boat for the first time," Wassler added. "But once they got on it and saw how much it takes the strain off of their knees, back and neck, especially on rough seas and on the range, it made a huge difference."
The unit hopes to have the boats in use sometime in February so all crew members can enjoy the benefits of the new boats. Until then, they will continue to uphold the Joint Task Force mission in keeping the bay secure.