News Stories

U.S. Coast Guard officer learning USACE/Wilmington District missions in USCG training program

Published Sept. 6, 2018

   A U.S. Coast Guard training program is helping grow a stronger relationship with the Wilmington District and is helping the Coast Guard gain better insight into the various missions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). 

   U.S. Coast Guard officer Lt. Brittany Akers is spending six months with the Wilmington District Navigation Branch through the Coast Guard’s Industry Training program.  After she completes the program, Akers will move back to her role as the Waterways Management Division Chief for Coast Guard Sector North Carolina based in Wilmington.  She’s the second Coast Guard officer to have been in the program to learn USACE and Wilmington District’s missions.

   “Because the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers work so closely together to maintain safe and navigable channels, the six-month industry training will pay dividends to both agencies when I return to my Coast Guard position,” she said.  “When the Coast Guard receives calls from industry or the community reporting shoaling or hazards to navigation, I now have a better understanding of how to coordinate with USACE to see if it’s within their jurisdiction, and if they can put it on their dredging schedule.”

   Akers said the Coast Guard’s Waterways Management Division is charged with maintaining safe waterways for both commercial and recreational boater traffic.  They process marine event permits, receive calls regarding hazards to navigation, and oversee the placement and maintenance of federal aids to navigation. Under her direction are three Aids to Navigation Teams and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bayberry.  During dredging season, she said the Coast Guard works closely with District before, during, and after dredging takes place.   

   “If we have aids to navigation on the waterway being dredged, we’ll work to shift the aids outside of the dredge area, and put them back in post-dredging.  The Coast Guard also releases notices to mariners regarding dredge projects that may be taking place inside the navigable waterway,” she explained.

  Akers said that USACE and the Coast Guard are both exceptionally diverse agencies with a multitude of missions.  She noted that both agencies are somewhat similarly sized.  USACE has approximately 34,000 employees, and the Coast Guard has just under 42,000 active duty members. She said the diverse mission sets combined with the smaller work force means that both agencies have personnel with experience and training in a wide range of disciplines.  She noted that there are some USACE missions that closely reflect Coast Guard missions, and she already has networked to touch base with key North Carolina industry partners and Wilmington District officials.  

   “Both agencies participate in post-storm assessments,” she said. “If a hurricane comes to the North Carolina Coast, I will know exactly who to call at USACE to obtain  post-storm hydrographic surveys to see how the channels have changed and where navigational aids need to be placed after the storm. While the Coast Guard and USACE have different missions and objectives, they often overlap in regards to maintaining safe vessel navigation, and it is imperative to have good information exchange between the two agencies, which industry training program facilitates.”

   Akers said that the program is paying off.  She has a better understanding of USACE and Wilmington District’s various missions that will benefit her in her job as a Coast Guard officer.  

   “I will leave USACE with knowledge of how they conduct surveys, how their funding works, how projects are planned and prioritized, as well as the capabilities and limitations of the different types of dredges USACE manages.”