Coast Guard inspections aim to assure marine safety - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Coast Guard inspections aim to assure marine safety

 The U.S. Coast Guard is there when search and rescue is needed or when there's an oil spill or other emergency at sea.    But some of the behind the scenes work they do is just as crucial.

On a normal day, all is well and marine traffic moves smoothly along.  That's due in part to the Coast Guard operating behind the scenes.  We visit inspectors going to a local shipyard, to examine a barge that carries oil.  It's being repaired.

"We're doing a dry dock exam which means we pull it out of the water and make sure that the hull underneath and the sides that we normally can't see are in good condition," said Lt. Will Fediw.

 Before the Coast Guard is finished with this vessel, guardsmen will have completed several hours worth of inspections inside and out to make sure it's not just seaworthy, but safe.

"By these vessels being safe, we know they're not discharging anything into the environment.  We know they're not going to be a navigational hazard," said Chief Warrant Officer Shawn Garry. 

The work can be hard and tedious. such as when they must maneuver through tight spaces to check work like welds.

"We're crawling every square foot of this barge both inside and out.  We're looking for failed welds,  we're looking for failures in the metal, anything that could pose a hazard on the vessel or the environment," said Garry.

"When we go and look at the welds ourselves, we make sure that visually they look good and then we use non-destructive testing to make sure those bonds are nice and strong," said Fediw.

For many people in the lake area, their very livelihood hinges on these types of vessels.  And that makes it even more important for the coast guard to do its job and do it well.

"When you see a boat going down the shipping channel or in the river, whether it's a barge or a vessel, people need to understand the Coast Guard, behind the scene have put eyes on it and made sure that it's safe because we care about the safety of the mariners, the security of the area and the well being of the community," said Fediw.

And with anticipated industrial growth, the Coast Guard expects to play an ever increasing role in marine safety and environmental protection.  

  Anyone interested in a career in the coast guard should contact a recruiter.  The closest locations are in Houston and New Orleans. Or click here. 
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