Eagle 75: Building trust

Cadets gather for quarters

Crewmembers and cadets aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle gather during quarters while sailing the Atlantic Ocean June 25, 2011. The Eagle is sailing toward Iceland from London on its 75th anniversary voyage. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi.

The gyroscope was repaired last Tuesday allowing Coast Guard Cutter Eagle to continue its 75th anniversary voyage. After more than seven days at sea, Eagle arrived at its next port of call, Reykjavik, Iceland, this morning. During the transit from London, one cadet reflects on her time at sea and how it will impact her Coast Guard career.

Written by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi, public affairs specialist aboard Eagle.

Third Class Cadet Lexi Ludewig

Third Class Cadet Lexi Ludewig is one of 137 cadets training aboard Eagle during the 2011 Summer Training Cruise. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi.

Each and every Coast Guard officer who sails aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle has the opportunity to climb the rigging and set the 23 sails that power the 295-foot barque.

To many, it’s a rite of passage. To others, it’s an obstacle they know they must overcome.

For 20-year-old Third Class Cadet Lexi Ludewig of Groveland, Ill., it is an exciting experience fueled by her childhood passion for heights.

Third Class Cadet Maira McNeil climbs the rigging

Third Class Cadet Maira McNeil climbs the rigging aboard Eagle June 22, 2011. Every cadet and crewmember that ascends the mast is provided training and wears a safety harness. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi.

“I’ve always loved climbing, even as a kid growing up,” Ludewig said. “It’s an adrenaline rush for me to be up that high [on the mast] and look down as the boat is moving back and forth. It’s a rush. I love it.”

While safety and training are essential when climbing the mast and setting the sails, the most valuable lesson the cadets learn is how to work and communicate as a team.

“Teamwork is very important,” Ludewig said. “You can’t do anything here by yourself. You have to learn that in order to get anything done. You can’t pull in a line by yourself, you can’t set a sail by yourself, and you can’t even messcook by yourself – everything we do, we do as a team.”

Lt. Jeff Janaro, the operations officer aboard the ship, said while people are climbing the sailing rig, an entire network of people take their place on deck to ensure the safety of the cadets, the crew and the ship.

Eagle sailing

The tallest of the masts on Eagle stands 147-feet above the water and any misstep could be fatal. To reduce the risks inherent with climbing the rigging, the Eagle’s permanent crewmembers train the cadets on how to safely maneuver and ascend the mast. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi.

“There is an extensive chain of command in place for each evolution. It starts with a cadet on a line and goes all the way to the Captain on the bridge,” Janaro said. “There are many steps that must happen at very specific times and in a certain order. The system is in place to coordinate the communication of everyone, and it’s through teamwork that we’re able to complete the task.”

Janaro said sailing is merely a platform to teach teamwork, communication and the challenges faced by Coast Guard men and women when they go to sea. The lessons cadets learn about sailing on Eagle are analogous of all Coast Guard missions.

“Setting the sails is all about managing an evolution,” Janaro said. “You can replace the sailing rig with a buoy deck, a flight deck or any other Coast Guard operational platform. Completing the task requires each individual knows their job and how their role plays into the greater mission.”

On the Eagle, it’s only when a group of cadets can come together as a team that they achieve success. Teamwork gathers trust, and it’s a lesson all Coast Guard officers learn as cadets aboard the ship and carry with them as officers when they enter the fleet.

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