Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Coast Guard Addresses Gender Disparities

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Coast Guard’s first large-scale study in 30 years on why women leave the service at higher rates than men listed experiences with poor leadership, a scarcity of female role models and concerns about sexual harassment and assault among its key findings.

“This study will help drive key areas for improvement for women’s retention in the service,” Commandant Karl Schultz said in a press statement. Schultz has established a stand-alone task force charged with turning ideas into actionable changes, with a focus on the study’s recommendations.

The press statement added that the study recommended initiatives to address attrition regardless of marital and parental status, augment workforce gaps during parental leave and expand opportunities for comprehensive leadership development training.

“The Personnel Readiness Task Force is exploring additional forward-leaning policy changes that disproportionately affect women and underrepresented minorities,” the statement said.

Easing tattoo restrictions, removing single-parent disqualifiers and revising outdated weight standards were among those areas identified.

Vice Commandant Charles Ray said the service enjoys one of the highest retention rates of the five military branches.

“We must do better,” said Ray, who leads the task force established by Schultz.

Prepared by the RAND Corporation, the report is entitled “Improving Gender Diversity in the U.S. Coast Guard: Identifying Barriers to Female Retention.”

Schultz announced during his recent State of the Coast Guard address the Coast Guard will build on the success of the women’s retention study by undertaking a similar holistic retention study this spring for underrepresented minorities.

Great Lakes Restoration

As if any doubts persisted, Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, assured House members he would follow President Donald Trump’s direction on coming up with $300 million to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

Wheeler, a native of Ohio, also took full advantage of the House hearing to repeat his claim that he is the only EPA administrator who has gone swimming in the Great Lakes.

“I love the Great Lakes,” he said.

Wheeler echoed the president several days earlier when Trump broke the news at a Michigan rally that he was going to get “full funding” for the GLRI.

Trump’s remarks, which also credited his administration’s efforts on Soo Locks funding, spared Wheeler from even more harsh questions about the administration’s efforts to slash GLRI funding.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, suggested Trump “flip-flopped” on his budget proposal to cut GLRI to win applause at the Michigan rally.

Making the criticism of the president’s budget request decidedly bipartisan, Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), the panel’s ranking member, also pressed Wheeler on GLRI funding.

Polar Security Cutter

A Record of Decision for the final Polar Security Cutter Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is now available, the Coast Guard announced.

Becoming operative on March 18, the complete text can be found by searching docket number USCG-2018-0193 at https://www.regulations.gov.

“Polar regions are becoming increasingly important to U.S. national interests,” the service stated in the Federal Register.

“The changing environment in these regions could lead to a rise in human activity and increased commercial ship, cruise ship, and naval surface ship operations, as well as increased exploration for oil and other resources, particularly in the Arctic.”

Coast Guard Commandant Karl Schultz has described Polar Security Cutter acquisition as critical to the U.S. security and prosperity in the high latitudes.

Schultz has said the construction contract for the first Polar Security Cutter will be awarded this spring.

It is expected to be delivered in 2023.

Facility Vessel Access

The Coast Guard is issuing a final rule requiring facilities it regulates to provide seafarers and other individuals access between moored vessels.

“These access procedures must be documented in the Facility Security Plan for each facility, and approved by the local Captain of the Port,” the service stated in the Federal Register.

“This final rule, which implements a congressional mandate, ensures that no facility owner or operator denies or makes it impractical for seafarers or other individuals to transit through the facility.”

The rule takes effect May 1 at no cost to the individuals.

In addition to seafarers, those covered by the rule include pilots and representatives of seamen’s welfare and labor organizations.

For additional information, contact Lt. Cmdr. Myles Greenway at 202-372-1168.

Strategic Outlook

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) said the United States faces a major challenge in the Arctic and other areas around the world because it asserts authority of passage by military “might, not by law.”

“And so this is something that absolutely has to be done, particularly in the Arctic,” Garamendi said at an event entitled “Securing Maritime Commerce: The U.S. Strategic Outlook” at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

“And we’ve failed to do it for more than 30 years now.”

Vice Admiral Dan Abel, the U.S. Coast Guard’s deputy commandant for operations and the event’s keynote speaker, said Russia views the Arctic as a turnpike authority.

“They are going to charge you a toll, they’re going to have the wreckers—they’re called ice breakers—and they’re going to make sure the weigh stations that you come to to get gas and get food, are all supported by them,” Abel said.

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Jennifer Carpenter, executive vice president and chief operating officer of The American Waterways Operators, also spoke at the event.

Other topics addressed by the panel ranged from cybersecurity and subsidies foreign nations provide their maritime industries to the importance of maintaining the Jones Act for the U.S. maritime industry.

“Lose the Jones Act and this industry is dead in America,” warned Garamendi, who serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness.