Not lost in translation

Petty Officer 3rd Class Juan Reyes translates during Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp's visit aboard Colobian Navy's three-masted training trip, Gloria. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Juan Reyes translates during Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp's visit aboard the Colombian navy's three-masted training ship, Gloria. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Shinn, Atlantic Area public affairs.

Relationships between the United States and countries in Central and South America are critical to the Coast Guard’s continuing efforts to intercept the flow of drugs in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, key maritime transit zones leading to the U.S. border.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Juan Reyes aboard the Colombian navy's three-masted training ship, Gloria. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Juan Reyes aboard the Colombian navy's three-masted training ship, Gloria. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

However these relationships would cease to exist without the ability to communicate. Partnering to enhance stability and security goes beyond counter narcotics operations, and the Coast Guard works through language barriers to effectively communicate across borders and sometimes oceans.

For one Coast Guardsman, building a partnership between two nations became a reality.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Juan Reyes translated for Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp during his visit to the Colombian navy’s ARC Gloria while it was moored in Norfolk, Va.

Reyes, who was born in Colombia and joined the service in 2008, is an official translator for the Coast Guard and has been translating the majority of his life. Reyes uses his bilingual ability not only during partnership meetings, but also puts it to use operationally during law enforcement patrols in the South American region.

“I believe being bilingual makes me an important asset to the Coast Guard because I’ve had the opportunity to translate for both senior leadership and field units,” said Reyes. “It helps the Coast Guard accomplish its mission safely because understanding what international maritime agencies are saying can be vital to the crew’s safety.”

Cooperation with Colombia is important for battling the latest smuggling threat to carry drugs in the region, self-propelled, semi-submersible vessels, also called drug subs. The above self-propelled, semi-submersible vessel - capable of transporting upwards of 10 tons of drugs - was seized by Colombian authorities in 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Cooperation with Colombia is important for battling the latest smuggling threat to carry drugs in the region, self-propelled, semi-submersible vessels, also called drug subs. The above self-propelled, semi-submersible vessel - capable of transporting upwards of 10 tons of drugs - was seized by Colombian authorities in 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Along with safety, the Coast Guard is more adaptable during patrols with partner agencies in South and Central America. These partnerships are critical in stopping illegal drugs from making their way from the source countries of South America into the nations of Central America and Mexico bringing corruption, extreme violence and other harm as they move north.

Broad-based international collaboration against transnational organized crime is pivotal to not only keeping drugs off U.S. streets but also maintaining stability in regional neighborhoods in which we share close ties. And, being able to speak the same language is the first step in establishing ties.

Reyes is just one of many Coast Guard translators who impact the service using their bilingual skill set. In fact, 80 percent of the need for translators in the service is for the Spanish language while the service also uses Haitian-Creole, Russian, Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

As the nation continues to build international relationships there will always be a need for translators, and the ability of a diverse, capable workforce to communicate with any maritime agency enables mission success. Interpreters like Reyes enable the Coast Guard to be locally based, nationally deployed and globally connected to any region.

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  • http://twitter.com/jimdolbow Jim Dolbow

    not to be picky but there is a typo in the caption for the 1st photo.  

  • LT S. M. Young

    There were a few typos in that first caption! Sorry about that. Just edited it. Thanks for letting us know.

    Very Respectfully,
    Lt. Stephanie Young
    Coast Guard Public Affairs

  • Mariexis

    Aw, reading this article made me want to be part of the Coast Guard, and also serve as one of their translators since the Spanish language is my mother language. So proud of Petty Officer 3rd Class Juan Reyes. =) Thank you Coast Guard for your service to our beautiful United States of America!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/STCTWZCZC7NL2YXUJDBTPOA45M John

    Captions still requires editing. The word “navy” should be capitalized whenever it is part of an official title such as when you said, “Columbian Navy”  An easy way to remember this is to capitalize “navy” anytime you would capitalize “coast guard.”  That phrase is capitalized unerringly throughout the story including in your comments about the original error.

  • Sewtinker1

    I’m happy to see that the Coast Guard is finally getting some of the recognition it deserves.  Articles like this make a world of difference and help inform the general public of the importance of the Coast Guard.

  • http://www.fisz.co.uk/index-2.html Polish translators

    Interesting!

  • LT S. M. Young

    John,

    Thanks for your feedback. At Compass we use the AP Stylebook and Coast Guard style guide. According to the AP Stylebook “navy” is lowercase when referencing foreign naval forces of other nations. Hopefully that helps out and thanks again!

    Very Respectfully,
    Lt. Stephanie Young
    Coast Guard Public Affairs