The 210-foot medium endurance cutter Dauntless should receive its first female enlisted crew members by summer 2014. (Lt. j.g. Eric Hudson / Coast Guard)
The service anticipates the following vacancies will be open to both male and female enlisted members on the medium endurance cutter Dauntless:
■Electrician’s mate second and third class.
■Food service specialist first class.
■Maritime enforcement specialist first class.
■Machinery technician first and third class (two MK3 positions).
■Operations specialist second class.
■Storekeeper first class.
All Coast Guardsmen interested in a position should submit an e-Resume, as with all other assignment requests. Female applicants also should email MKC Tina Claflin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-872-6582.
Enlisted women in the Coast Guard will be competing with their male counterparts for positions aboard a second 210-foot cutter, a move that could help women get more sea time and improve their chances for advancement and station locations.
But if the service can’t find enough qualified women to fill the jobs, the chance to integrate the cutter by next year could be lost.
The service announced in a June 13 assignment solicitation message that it is looking for women to fill 10 open positions (see box) aboard the medium endurance cutter Dauntless, homeported in Galveston, Texas. They would report to the cutter next summer.
The service has 14 Reliance-class cutters, but only the Oregon-based Alert has enlisted women in its crew, integrating in 2012. All 14 cutters are open to female officers.
Enlisted women have been losing opportunities afloat with the decommissioning of the 378-foot high endurance cutters. There are about 20 such opportunities lost every time one of the 378s leaves the fleet, said Chief Machinery Technician Tina Claflin, the service’s women afloat coordinator.
National security cutters, which are replacing the 378s, can have many berthing configurations and have unlimited opportunities for women afloat, Claflin said. Three of the eight planned NSCs are in service, each with a crew of about 120. Assigning enlisted women to the 210s will help fill the gap in afloat assignment opportunities as NSCs come online, Claflin said.
“Serving aboard a 210 can offer a full range of career diversity and experience, additional opportunities and geographical locations that will help ensure our female Coast Guardsmen remain competitive within their ratings,” she said.
Potential berthing issue
No preferential treatment will be given to the women applying for an assignment, said Claflin — if men apply for and are more qualified for the open spots, they’ll get the jobs. But if the best candidate is a woman, and not enough other women earn spots, that qualified female candidate could lose out.
The Dauntless’ commanding officer, Cmdr. Christopher Strong, said he expects to create a berthing area to accommodate 10 to 15 female enlisted Coasties — a project set for this spring involving limited modifications such as privacy curtains and light-duty bulkheads.
If not enough qualified women are available to fill that berthing area, the crew won’t integrate. Officials wouldn’t give a minimum number of qualified women, but Claflin said some berthing spaces could be filled by female nonrates or “A” school graduates.
When the Alert first received an integrated enlisted crew, Dauntless’ then-commanding officer, Cmdr. John W. Pruitt III volunteered his cutter to be next. He said he feels the diversity brought by women makes the service stronger.
“I’ve seen the evidence that mixed-gender crews work well together,” Pruitt said. “Diversity provides perspective, and perspective helps you to see things differently. ... Sometimes that little change [in perspective] will make a big difference.”
Operations Specialist 3rd Class Dillon Whitaker said working with women will be a new experience for him, as the ship’s two female officers don’t serve in his department.
“I’ve never served at a unit with [enlisted] women,” he said. “It will take some time to adapt to it and kind of get used to it a little bit.”