Coast Guard Fireman Shirlanda Charles is a crewmember at Coast Guard Station Atlantic City, New Jersey, who began her military service with an uncommon perspective and a unique kind of patriotism.
When Charles enlisted in the U.S. military and solemnly swore to defend the Constitution of the United States, she dedicated her service to a country where she was not a citizen.
Charles was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, in the Caribbean just north of South America.
Charles was 16 years old in 2009 when she graduated from high school. The summer after she graduated, Charles traveled to New York City to visit her mother, who holds a U.S. residency card and works as a nurse.
“After visiting my mother in New York City, I decided to stay with her,” said Charles. “Initially, living in New York City was a culture shock, especially when the season changed and I experienced cold temperatures for the first time.”
Along with the challenge of acclimating to drastically different weather, Charles had to make a tough decision: since the education systems of Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. are not aligned, Charles had to choose to attend high school again and earn a diploma from an American school, or to enroll in college.
Charles said she felt like she was too young for college, so she enrolled in Manhattan Comprehensive High School. In school, Charles quickly learned that weather and the education system were not the only cultural differences she would experience in America.
“I noticed the people who live in America have so much,” said Charles. “The main thing I noticed people have here, and I think sometimes take for granted, is opportunity. People in America have voices — it’s amazing! I started to think seriously about getting my U.S. citizenship.”
In addition to working on earning her citizenship, Charles attended college for a short time but said she was eager to get a job.
“I walked by a Coast Guard recruitment office one day,” said Charles. “I spoke with the recruiter who asked me if I wanted time to think about what I wanted to do — I knew what I wanted. I began the enlistment process and headed to basic training a few months later. The Coast Guard was my first job!”
In 2013, when Charles reported to basic training at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, she faced many new and unique challenges.
“In basic training, we were not allowed to look anyone in their eyes,” said Charles. “Growing up in Trinidad, we are taught from a young age to look someone in their eyes as a sign of respect. I was yelled at a lot in basic training.”
Charles was also the designated female squad leader during basic training, giving her additional responsibility in an already stressful environment.
“Being a squad leader was a challenge for me because I had to quickly learn a lot about the Coast Guard and then teach my shipmates,” said Charles.
From basic training, Charles reported to Station Atlantic City where the unit’s command and crew eagerly anticipated her arrival.
“Charles’ reputation definitely preceded her coming out of boot camp,” said Lt. Cmdr. C.K. Moore, the commanding officer of Station Atlantic City. “Once she arrived, she hit the ground running and never looked back!”
After she arrived at the station, Charles faced a more personal challenge.
“I am the only black crewmember at the station besides Mr. Moore,” said Charles. “This was new for me. Almost everyone in Trinidad is black, and the population in New York is extremely diverse.”
Charles said when she first enlisted she heard there were not a lot of black individuals in the Coast Guard.
Of the approximately 42,000 active duty Coast Guard members, less than 6 percent are black — a statistic Charles says doesn’t hold her back but inspires her to charge forward.
“I realized being one of the two black people at the station is a positive,” said Charles. “At first, I felt like I didn’t fit in, but really this is a great opportunity for me to stand out.”
Charles did stand out. After a few months of hard work and studying, Charles earned every station qualification she could for her rank, including boarding team member. About a year after reporting to the station, Charles switched from seaman to fireman.
Changing her rank title allows Charles to pursue additional qualifications while she waits to attend training to become an information systems technician.
“I have learned a lot since I joined the Coast Guard,” said Charles. “I enjoy the respect people in the Coast Guard show each other, and the military structure is comforting in the way it reminds me of my strict upbringing in Trinidad.”
In addition to her devotion to Coast Guard duty, Charles passed her citizenship test in 2014 and became a permanent U.S. citizen.
Moore said Charles spent a lot of time studying for the test, and he would ask her U.S. history questions while they were underway.
“I was extremely proud when Charles obtained her citizenship last year,” said Moore. “She is one of the most dedicated and focused non-rates I have ever worked with.”
Charles said she takes pride in wearing the Coast Guard uniform.
“I am so proud to wear the Coast Guard uniform,” said Charles. “I do wish there were more black people in the Coast Guard, but I feel like I am in a position to someday be a great role model.”
Charles said she is grateful for the encouragement and support she gets from her mother and friends in New York, her family in Trinidad and Tobago and all her Coast Guard shipmates.
Workboat is reporting:
The Delta Queen this week was purchased by investors who hope to have the historic steamboat cruising again in 2016. Terms were not disclosed.
Cornel Martin, a former company executive, and his partners plan to spend an estimated $5 million on restorations and renovations including new boilers, the HVAC system and new generators. The hotel side is “in pretty good shape,” Martin said, but they’ve got a lot of work to do on the marine side.
The 176-passenger boat has been tied up in Chattanooga, Tenn., where she was a dockside hotel. Delta Queen Steamboat Company headed by Martin bought the vessel from TAC Cruise, an affiliate of Xanterra Holding Corp, Greenwood Village, Colo., which runs concessions and activities at national and state parks. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, she stopped sailing in 2008 when money-losing Majestic America Line shut down. Xanterra acquired her at a 2011 auction.
The complete Workboat post is here.
Pilothouse video (note the jog lever instead of the wheel)
The Log is reporting:
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced after its Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 meetings in Abu Dhabi the lineup of competitive events for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Sailing was not one of the events included in the announced lineup…..
The report added the quality of the application submitted by International Federation for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) was “generally poor” and provided “very little information.” Further, the report stated claims made by IFDS were “not backed up by data” and some questions were left unanswered.
The Log’s complete post is here.
(Thanks to John Chessell for the link.)
BlackAmericaWeb is reporting:
MIAMI – Arnold Donald has swag. Not the phony suburban swag, but that old-school, down-home New Orleans Black neighborhood kind of swag that signals the confident chief executive strolling into the board room is clearly in charge. As Carnival Corporation’s first African-American CEO, Donald has prepared for this high-level, high-profile, high-paid position all his life.
At the prestigious St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, an all-boys, all-African-American Catholic school where Donald received a scholarship, he recalled this inspirational mantra from his teachers: “Three times a day, they would say: ‘Gentlemen, prepare yourselves, you’re going to run the world.’ ”
It’s close enough. Today, Donald, 60, leads the world’s largest cruise line with 120,000 employees and 100 ships for the 10.5 million passengers who cruise with Carnival each year. Sitting inside his spacious 10th-floor office at Carnival Corp. in suburban Miami, Donald talked about his vision for leading the Carnival Corporation. For Donald, it’s all about trying to offer unprecedented customer service.
The complete BlackAmericaWeb post by is here.
The Log is reporting:
WASHINGTON (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — President Obama has signed into law H.R. 5771 (Tax Increase Prevention Act 2014) that retroactively extended over 50 tax provisions including two that affect boaters — the state sales tax and mortgage interest deductions — until Dec. 31, 2014. The legislation, which was introduced by former Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) in December, extended the provisions of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, which has been extended by Congress several times since its original enactment but had expired Dec. 31. It must be renewed by Congress again if the tax deductions are to be available on 2015 federal tax returns.
The Log’s compete post is here.
(Thanks to John Chessell for the link.)
The Telegraph is reporting:
More plastic is now dumped in oceans and seas annually than was produced globally each year in the 1960s, new figures show.
Each foot of coastline in countries including Britain now contains on average the equivalent of five shopping bags full of plastic.
Discarded bottles, food wrappers, toys and gadgets and increasingly ending up on shorelines, estuaries or uncontrolled landfill, from where they way to the oceans, scientists have warned.
For the first time the University of Georgia has quantified the scale of the problem.
Experts found that in 2010 around eight million metric tons of plastic entered seas and oceans as a direct result of people living within 30 miles of coastlines.
The Telegraph’s complete post by Sarah Knapton is here.
KOMO is reporting:
SAUSALITO, Calif. – There’s something about the sway of an old houseboat in a passing California shower.
“Our home is on the oldest wooden ferry boat on the West Coast,” says owner Chris Tellis. “It’s wonderful when you can feel the boat move. Most of the time it’s very calm here.”
Tellis has lived most of his life on the brightly colored – and aptly named – Yellow Ferry, floating on Richardson Bay, part of the greater San Francisco Bay system.
The complete KOMO post by here.is