CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT - Harking back to the days of the United States Life-Saving Service, Surfmen were the consummate coast guard boat coxswains. Now through years of specialized training and experience, he or she is intimately familiar with search and rescue planning, operations and equipment. Surfmen are trusted to operate the most seaworthy craft in the USCG inventory, the 47-foot motor life boat with a price tag of over a million dollars, in extreme weather conditions.
Their motto, coined at the turn of the twentieth century underscores their commitment: "The book says that you've got to go out, but it doesn't say a word about coming back." Today, Surfmen stand duty at one of nineteen designated surf stations ranging from Quillayute River, Wash. to Morro Bay, Calif.; from Merrimack River, Mass. to Hatteras Inlet, N.C.; and at the world famous National Motor Lifeboat School at the mouth of the Columbia River at Cape Disappointment.
There are only 161 Surfmen who stand ready at these stations, although there are at least that many positions that go unfilled due to the stringent requirements needed to become Surfmen. They respond to calls for assistance with 47-foot motor lifeboats and at select stations in Oregon and Washington on the venerable 52-foot motor lifeboats such as the Intrepid, Victory, Invincible, and Triumph.
Much like their counterparts at other stations nationwide, Surfmen typically stand duty or on call 84 hours a week. These 161 Surfmen make up the smallest operational specialty in the USCG today. Dubbed
storm warriors or surf soldiers at the turn of the 20th century, these men and women are the core of what the USCG calls "the soul of the service."
I will to the best of my ability, pursue each mission with the commitment, compassion, and courage inherent in the title Surfmen.
I will endeavor to reinforce the worldwide reputation of our forefathers in the lifeboat community.
I will maintain a guardian's eye on my crew at all times, and keep a cool, yet deliberate, hand on the throttle.
I will give of myself and my knowledge as those who gave to me; so that the line of Coast Guard Surfmen will live forever.
I will ensure that my supervisors rest easy with the knowledge that I am at the helm, no matter what the conditions.
I will never unnecessarily jeopardize myself, my boat, or my crew; but will do so freely to rescue those in peril.
I will strive with dedication and determination to bring credit upon Coast Guard Surfmen past and future.