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Coast Guard R&D Center Receives Auxiliary Integration Award

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

February 13, 2024

The photo shows 10-year Auxiliary member Steve Morowsky and 30-year member Aux Joe Romanowsky underway supporting an RDC research project focused on Private Aids to Navigation verification. Photo courtesy Auxiliarists David Thiede

The photo shows 10-year Auxiliary member Steve Morowsky and 30-year member Aux Joe Romanowsky underway supporting an RDC research project focused on Private Aids to Navigation verification. Photo courtesy Auxiliarists David Thiede

The Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC), under the command of Capt. Michael Chien, has won the Commodore Viggo C. Bertelsen Jr. and Vice Admiral John P. Currier Auxiliary Integration Award in the category of Applied Innovation.  The award was presented by Commander Steven Koch, who leads the Auxiliary (AUX) in New England, at a command all hands. 

The Auxiliary is the 25,000-member volunteer organization supporting the Coast Guard across 11 missions.

Regional Auxiliary Commodore Michael West noted, “The RDC research team has worked on a daily basis with the center’s Auxiliary unit to complete integration. Researchers are supported and Auxiliary members are engaged in meaningful work across a spectrum of missions. Currently, nine different projects within the FY23 portfolio have AUX members directly engaged supporting researchers to ensure the service maintains a competitive edge in mission accomplishment. This relationship is a model for the rest of the service to follow and embrace.”

For more than 50 years, the RDC has been developing technology and knowledge products that have significantly enhanced and supported the Coast Guard’s ability to execute its 11 statutory missions. Continuous improvement and innovation have been key to the ongoing success of the RDC, witnessed in the fact that its ever-broadening scope now includes the Arctic, space, unmanned systems and climate change.
The AUX has been supporting the RDC for many years, beginning in 2016 with the deployment of AUX personnel for shoreside and waterside test observations. The majority of these local RDC support missions soon evolved into requests for national support. Over the years, the RDC and AUX relationship shifted from a transactional tactical mode to one that is more strategic. In keeping with the Commandant’s Intent 2022 and the 2022 Coast Guard Auxiliary GAP Analysis, the RDC has embraced integration by:

  • Expanding the scope of AUX support missions.
  • Collaboratively creating an AUX “skills bank” for the RDC to match qualified AUX members with skills that could potentially fill resource and technology subject matter expertise gaps, thereby leveraging untapped Auxiliarist experience, talents and skills.

The skills bank capability provided a much-needed reserve for the RDC on a project-by-project basis. Equally important was that AUX members felt they were contributing to a shared purpose, operationalizing the commandant’s vision and new service strategy, i.e., Team Coast Guard.
As the relationship grew and its value was recognized, the need to codify the RDC-AUX relationship – and ensure its sustainability nationally – became apparent. In 2019, with this goal in mind, the AUX First Southern District Commodore, William Bowen, coordinated with the RDC commanding officer, Capt. Gregory Rothrock, and the Coast Guard First District commander, Rear Adm. Tom Allen, to create an auxiliary unit coordinator (AUC). The position is defined in the Auxiliary Manual as follows:

“The AUC shall be an experienced Auxiliarist appointed by the (district commodore) in consultation with the director and the Coast Guard unit commander to which assigned. The primary purpose of an AUC shall be to facilitate the timely provision of high-quality administrative and operational support by the Auxiliary to the associated Coast Guard unit. The AUC shall work closely with the Coast Guard unit to develop and maintain the necessary relationships to deliver such service.”

This RDC AUX Unit is a now a virtual organization that continues to leverage members’ special skills and talents nationally. Every year, the RDC AUX Unit team has performed above and beyond expectations. The current portfolio has eight research projects with Auxiliary participation.

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