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One of the highest honors and accompanying list of responsibilities on board a motorlife boat goes with a certificate called a “Surfman.” Out of 45,000 Coast Guardsmen in the service, there are less than five hundred that meet the stringent requirements who can operate a motor lifeboat in rough seas and calm, rescues and other hair-raising conditions that seem to happen all to frequently along the West Coast.
BM2 Matthew Strucic, after years of training and proficiency testing on and off the water, was awarded his Surfman Certificate Friday morning at U.S. Coast Guard Station Yaquina Bay. He was also pinned with the official Surfman pin, and given a Surfman check by Newport’s favorite coast guardsman BMCM Thomas Mc Adams (Surfman #83) retired. Afterwards, Surfman Matthew Strucic was congratulated by his fellow Surfmen and was welcomed into the realm of elite lifeboat handlers whose skill and good judgement are critically important elements in any successful ocean operation.
Here’s a bit more background on the Surfman legacy and how much it is honored, if not revered, in the ranks of the U.S. Coast Guard:
From the U.S. Coast Guard
The title of surfman is reserved for the service’s most highly trained boat handlers. Surfmen are the only coxswains qualified to operate rescue boats in breaking surf conditions. Surf is both unpredictable and treacherous, and requires the utmost boat driving skill and mastery. Of the 188 boat stations currently in the Coast Guard, 20 stations are located in areas with surf conditions that require surfmen. Surfman qualification is the pinnacle of professionalism at these units.
Any SNBM, BM3, BM2 or BM1 can enter training to become a surfman, but few have what it takes! The training is very demanding and can take anywhere from 1 to 6 years. Only 1 out of every 25 BM1 or BM2s will achieve qualification as surfman and become part of this elite community. Throughout their careers, Surfmen often prove to be among the service’s most outstanding achievers; currently 35% of BMCMs and 25% of BMCSs are qualified surfmen.
In other promotions Friday morning, BM2 Robert Norris received his certification for Heavy Weather Coxswain. This is an intermediate certification. The individual who achieves this certification has demonstrated the maturity and boat handling skills above a basic Coxswain level.
MK2 Robert Hinkle was promoted to Machinery Technician Second Class. He serves as an Engineer aboard the lifeboats and also as a Maritime Law Enforcement Officer.