USCGC Spar’s diverse crew learns to love the Northland during busy work days and nights

USCGC Spar breaking ice in the Twin Ports.
USCGC Spar breaking ice in the Twin Ports.(kbjr)
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 9:54 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - “I didn’t know what to do out of high school so I figured the Coast Guard would be a good option. I compared it with the Air Force, Marines and all the other branches and I liked the mission of the Coast Guard - saving lives instead of taking them.”, said MK3 Christopher DiCenso.

The bridge of USCGC Spar during a recent mission
The bridge of USCGC Spar during a recent mission(kbjr)

Machinery Technician Christopher DiCenso of San Diego keeps the Coast Guard Cutter Spar running for her missions. He and nearly 50 other men and women from around America form the Juniper Class cutter’s diverse crew. Machinery Technician Adolfos Hernandez comes from the heat of Texas.

“I’ve never seen this amount of snow or cold or ice in my entire life so when I first got here, I didn’t want to get out of the cutter at all.” said MK2 Adolfos Hernandez.

Now Northland winter acclimated, Hernandez can work outdoors in March without a parka. During ice breaking season, the work day starts early.

“Our daily life around here gets here at 7, we get the mains running and then we start breaking ice.” said Hernandez.

Ice breaking is usually done mid afternoon. Many crew members then go to onshore homes and apartments. Some work the night shift doing maintenance, making repairs and standing security watch. Ensign Cameron Craveiro from Massachuesetts helps with public affairs occasionally and recently gave an evening ship’s tour to members of the Twin Ports Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla. The ensign started as an Auxiliarist before going to active duty officer candidate school.

“I was an Auxiliarist for about three years and through that I was able to take part in active-duty missions as a student and I had an internship at Air Station Cape Cod and that really introduced me to the Coast Guard in fact I credit it with finding my way here right now.” said the Ensign.

Soon, ice breaking will end and the Spar will do about three weeks on the big lake setting buoys. Then, the classic watch system will go in effect with crew members doing a cycle of four hours on and four hours off while underway.

“It’s intrinsically a dangerous and stressful job.” said BM1 Brett Esser.

Boatswain’s Mate Brett Esser of Oakland Bay, California, is part of Deck Force. He’ll be donning a hard hat and dodging tons of buoys swinging from a crane. He’d have it no other way.

“It’s rewarding, it’s impressive being around how professional these folks are and it’s a great job and I’m glad to be here.” said Esser.

So glad, BM1 Esser plans to retire from the Coast Guard in Esko with his family someday.

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