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Required Knowledge

11 General Orders

  1. To take charge of this post and all government property in view.
  2. To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert, and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.
  3. To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.
  4. To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guard house than my own.
  5. To quit my post only when properly relieved.
  6. To receive, obey, and pass on to the sentry who relieves me all orders from the commanding officer, field officer of the day, officer of the day, and officers and petty officers of the watch.
  7. To talk to no one except in the line of duty.
  8. To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.
  9. To call the petty officer of the watch in any case not covered by instructions.
  10. To salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.
  11. To be especially watchful at night, and during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post, and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.

Customs and Courtesies

Postion of Attention

As a member of the Coast Guard, it is very important to demonstrate proper honors at all times.


Salutes will always be accompanied by a proper greeting such as “Sir, Good Morning, Sir,” or “Ma’am, Good Afternoon, Ma’am.” A salute is military tradition and custom that recognizes the other person’s seniority. Recruits will address all personnel using “Sir,” or “Ma’am” (as appropriate) at the beginning and the end of the sentence or phrase. The position of attention will be assumed when speaking to, or being addressed by all permanent party members. “Carry-on” may be granted by the person in authority only if the recruit demonstrates proper military bearing. On board ship, the proper hand salute and greeting will be rendered each time you meet. It is dispensed with after the first meeting. You will salute and greet the commanding officer each and every time you meet him or her.

Boarding a Vessel

When the quarterdeck is on the pier, walk up to the OOD, render a salute, and request permission to go aboard. After the OOD returns the salute and grants permission, walk up the ladder, face the national ensign and render a salute, then proceed onto the ship.

When the quarterdeck is on the ship, walk up the accommodation ladder (brow, gangway). Stop when you reach the upper platform, face the national ensign and render a hand salute. Next face the officer of the deck (OOD), render a salute and request permission to come aboard. When the OOD returns the salute and grants permission to come aboard, board the ship. 

The Position of Attention

The position of attention is the basic military position from which most other drill movements are executed. You stand in the following manner: Smartly bring your left heel against the right.

Turn your feet out equally to form an angle of 45 degrees. Keep your heels on the same line and touching.

Your legs should be straight but not stiff at the knees.

Keep your hips and shoulders level and your chest lifted.

Your arms should hang naturally, thumbs along the trouser seams, palms facing inward toward your legs, and fingers joined in their natural curl.

Keep your head and body erect. Look straight ahead. Keep your mouth closed and your chin pulled in slightly.

Stand still and do not talk.

  • Stand at attention, raise right hand toward forehead
  • Extend and join thumb to fingers
  • Raise hand so tip of forefinger touches cover brim in ball cap and combination cover
  • In garrison, touch tip of forefinger above and slightly right of your eye - Hand and wrist are straight at 45 degree angle with palm turned slightly inward (toward face)
  • Upper arm is parallel to the deck
  • Once salute has been acknowledged or at the last note of the National Anthem, drop your arm to your side in the most direct manner

Addressing Personnel

Non-Rated Group (E-1 to E-3):

Formal: Good morning Seaman/Fireman and last name.
Informal: Good morning and last name.

Petty Officer Group (E-4 to E-6):

Formal: Good morning Petty Officer and last name.
Informal: Good morning Petty Officer and last name.

Chief Petty Officer Group (E-7 to E-9):

Formal: Good morning Chief Petty Officer, Senior Chief Petty Officer, Master Chief Petty Officer and last name.
Informal: Good morning Chief, Senior Chief, Master Chief and last name. Junior Officer Group (W-2 to 0-4):
Formal and Informal: Mister/Mrs./Miss or Ms. and last name.
When name is not known, use “Sir” or “Ma’am”.

Senior Officer Group (0-5 to 0-6):

Senior Officers will be addressed by their titles of rank.
Good morning Commander Pascucci, Good morning Captain Sinclair.

Flag Officer Group (0-7 to 0-10):

Admirals are addressed by their titles of rank.
Good morning Admiral Lee.

  • The Commandant is addressed as Admiral.
  • The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard is addressed as Master Chief.

Work Life

The Work-Life Staff provides information that is vital to members and their families as they face the challenges and opportunities of Coast Guard life.

The Work-Life structure consists of 15 W-L Staffs located at Base Support Units and the Headquarters Support Commands. Staffs have a network of providers, which include volunteers, members with collateral duties, and contracted services. There is a single toll-free number for the entire Coast Guard: 1-800-872-4957

After this number is dialed, an operator will ask for the 3-digit number of the appropriate W-L Staff according to region.
The W-L Program covers the following support services:

  • Transition/Relocation Manager
  • Family Resource Specialist
  • Family Advocacy Specialist
  • CG Support
  • Health Promotions Manager

The CG Support Program provides a confidential professional assessment and short term counseling and referral services to help employees with their personal, job or family problems.

Toll free number 1-800-247-8778 or

Relationships with other Personnel

Recruits MAY NOT socialize with:

  • Cape May Training Staff
    (non-recruit military and civilian personnel)
  • Recruits in other companies not in the same week of training.

Inappropriate relationships are defined as follows:

  • Repeated or continued association, discussions (including ones of a professional nature)* and sexual or amorous relations between recruits and Cape May Training Staff.
  • Nonprofessional association with recruits from other companies not in the same week of training unless specifically directed by the Training Staff.
  • Any sexual or amorous associations or discussions between recruits.

Recruits are required to report any incident involving inappropriate relations. Failure to report an incident is considered a punishable offense.

*These discussions may be perceived as an inappropriate relationship because of the frequency of the discussions.

Work-Life Staff Structure Table

Location Extension
BSU Alameda 252
BSU Boston 301
BSU Cleveland 309
BSU Honolulu 314
BSU Ketchikan 317
BSU Kodiak 563
BSU Miami 307
BSU New Orleans 308
BSU Portsmouth 305
BSU San Pedro 311
BSU Seattle 313
BSU Seattle 313
BSU St. Louis 302
TRACEN Cape May 629
HSC Washington, DC 932

Coast Guard Rank Structure

Officer Grade Structure of the USCG


Lieutenant Junior Grade


Lieutenant Commander



Rear Admiral

Rear Admiral

Vice Admiral


Warrant Officer Grade Structure of the USCG

Chief Warrant Officer 2

Chief Warrant Officer 3

Chief Warrant Officer 4

Non Commissioned Officer Grade Structure of the USCG

Petty Officer Third Class

Petty Officer Second Class

Petty Officer First Class

Chief Petty Officer

Senior Chief Petty Officer

Master Chief Petty Officer

Command Master Chief Petty Officer

Coast Guard Reserve Forces Master Chief

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard

Enlisted Grade Structure of the USCG

Seaman Recruit



Seaman Apprentice
Fireman Apprentice






Phoenetic Alphabet

The Phonetic Alphabet is the set of symbols and modifiers designed, principally on the basis of articulatory considerations, to provide a consistent and universally understood system for transcribing the speech sounds of any language.

Letter Phoenetic Letter

Pay and Allowances

Basic Pay: Members are entitled to receive pay according to their pay grades and years of service.

Basic Pay Reserve: Reserves are entitled to compensation at the rate of one-thirtieth of the monthly basic pay for their grade and years of service for each regular drill or period of appropriate duty. A drill is 4 hours long.

Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS): Enlisted BAS is paid to members assigned to a unit with no dining facility or to a unit that does have a government dining facility, but the member is not required to eat meals there.

Enlisted BAS minus Discount Meal Rate: You receive this if you are assigned to a ship, Class “A” School, or a shore unit where you are required to eat at the government dining facility and do not pay for your meals.

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH): There are a few different types of BAH. The amount you receive is based on pay grade, your marital status, and unit location:

Partial BAH: This is paid to members without dependents who live in the barracks or on a cutter.

BAH Without Dependents: Paid to members without dependents who are required, or have permission to live in the economy.

BAH With Dependents: Paid to members with dependents who DO NOT live in government owned or leased quarters.

BAH Differential: If you pay court-ordered child support, but live in the barracks or on a ship, you can still receive an allowance for child support. BAH Differential is the difference between BAH with and without dependents.

Cost of Living Allowance (COLA): COLA is paid to members residing in high cost of living areas. It is based on your pay grade, years in
service, and unit location.

Clothing Allowance: The Coast Guard also gives you a monthly allowance to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of your uniforms. You will not receive this until you complete 6 months in the Coast Guard.

Sea Pay: All members assigned to cutters, 65 feet or longer, receive
sea pay. Sea pay is an incentive pay that varies depending on your pay grade and years of sea service as well as the type of cutter you are assigned to.


Common Terms

Aft — Towards the rear
Aloft — Above the ship’s uppermost solid structure, overhead or
high above.
Alongside — By the side of the pier or ship.
Awash — So low in the water that the water is constantly washing across the service.
Barracks — A building where military personnel live.
Beam — Greatest athwart ships width of a vessel.
Belay — (1) To make fast and secure a line. (2) To cancel an order. (3) To cease.
Below — Beneath the deck (downstairs).
Billet — A crew members assigned duties within the ships organization. BMOW— Boatswain’s mate of the watch is responsible to ensure all watches are properly manned and in order.
Bow — The front of the ship.
Brow — A moveable ladder or ram used for boarding a vessel from a dock or pier.
Bulkhead — A partition or “wall” on a vessel.
Cabin — The Commanding Officer’s living quarters.
Centerline — Imaginary line running from ship’s bow to stern.
Check — To slack off slowly, to ease off a line a little.
Compartment — Enclosed spaces or “rooms” on a vessel.
Davit — Shipboard crane that can be swung out over the side.
Deck — The “floor” of a vessel.
EOW — (Engineering Officer of the Watch) An officer in charge of the engineering department while on watch.
Eyes in the Boat — Look straight ahead at position of attention.
Fast — Snugly secured.
Fathom — A six foot unit of length.
Fender — A piece of equipment, such as an inflated ball, when inserted between the vessel and another object will absorb shock and
prevent damage.
Fore — Towards the bow of the ship.
Forecastle — Upper deck in the forward part of the ship, pronounced “FOKE-sul.”
Galley — The cooking compartment or “kitchen” on a vessel.
Gunwale — Upper edge or rail of a ship or boat’s side, pronounced “GUN’nle.”
Hatch — A square or rectangular opening in a deck.
Hawser — A thick rope or cable for mooring or towing a ship.
Head — The compartment with toilet facilities; bathroom.
Heading — The direction a ship points at any given moment.
Inboard — Toward the center of the ship.
Keel — Center of the hull. Lowest in water where weight is most carried. Ladder — Steps from one deck to another.
Leeward — (Lee) Direction away from the wind.
Mast — The vertical structure from a vessel that frequently holds rigging for flags and pennants, electronic equipment, and the National Ensign while underway; the flagpole at a land unit.
Messdeck — The compartment where enlisted personnel eat.
Muster — Assembly of the crew for accountability
OOD — Officer Of the Day/Deck. An officer who is in charge of a vessel or station for the day or watch.
Outboard — Away from the center of the ship.
Overhead — The ceiling on a vessel/ compartment.
Part — To break, as of a line.
Passageway — Compartment designed for traffic, a “hallway.”
Port — Referring to the left side of a vessel when seen by someone facing the bow.
Rack — A sailor’s bed.
Scullery — Compartment for washing and sterilizing eating utensils Scuttle Butt — (1) A drinking fountain. (2) A rumor.
Secure — Lock up, finish up.
Starboard — Right side of the ship from the perspective of looking forward
Stern — The back of the ship.
Strike — Lower or bring down.
Swab — To mop. The mop itself.
Turn to — An order to begin work.
Underway — When a vessel is not tied to a pier or at anchor.
Void — An empty compartment below decks
Wake — The track of disturbed water left behind a moving ship.
Watch — A period of duty, usually four hours.
Windward — Side of the vessel wind is coming from.

Military Time

Military time is an unambiguous, concise method of expressing time. The main difference between regular and military time is how hours are expressed. Regular time uses numbers 1 to 12 to identify each of the 24 hours in a day. In military time, the hours are numbered from 00 to 23. Under this system, midnight is 00, 1 a.m. is 01, 1 p.m. is 13, and so on. Regular and military time express minutes and seconds in exactly the same way. Since military time uses a unique two-digit number to identify each of the 24 hours in a day, a.m. and p.m. are unnecessary. The following table summarizes the relationship between regular and military time.

Regular Time Military Time
Midnight 0000
1:00am 0100
2:00am 0200
3:00am 0300
4:00am 0400
5:00am 0500
6:00am 0600
7:00am 0700
8:00am 0800
9:00am 0900
10:00am 1000
11:00am 1100
12:00am 1200
1:00pm 1300
2:00pm 1400
3:00pm 1500
4:00pm 1600
5:00pm 1700
6:00pm 1800
7:00pm 1900
8:00pm 2000
9:00pm 2100
10:00pm 2200
11:00pm 2300



Expect to live onboard for the first 6 months if attached to a vessel larger than 65’. If stationed ashore you will most likely live in Unaccompanied Personnel Housing which is dormitory style rooms.

Government Owned Housing

This housing is owned or controlled by the Coast Guard or Department of Defense. You will not pay rent or utilities, but you will be responsible for non-essential utilities such as phone, cable and internet.

An inspection is conducted at least annually and you will be responsible for any damage above normal wear and tear. Personnel with dependents will have the bedrooms they are entitled to base upon the number, age, and gender of dependents.

Leased Housing

The government rents you living quarters in the civilian sector. Personnel without dependents may share with one or two roommates; you pay for all nonessential utilities, and damages above normal wear and tear. There may be grounds keeping requirements and you may have to pay for utility bills, if excessive.

Applying for Housing

Members without dependents only need to submit a copy of your CG-5131 (PCS orders) with your application, form CG-5267. Members with dependents will also need copies of their BAH/Dependency form. Applications must be received by the housing officer at least 30 days prior to arrival at your new Permanent Duty Station.

Fair Housing Act of 1968

The Fair Housing Act outlaws:

  • The refusal to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion or national origin.
  • Discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in the terms, conditions or privilege of the sale or rental of a dwelling.
  • Advertising the sale or rental of a dwelling indicating a preference of discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin.
  • Coercing, threatening, intimidating, or interfering with a person’s enjoyment or exercise of housing rights based on discriminatory reasons.

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

The SCRA allows individuals to break a lease when they go onto active duty, if the lease was entered into prior to enlisting. Additionally, the act allows a servicemember to terminate a residential lease entered into while in the military, if the member receives permanent change of station orders (PCS), or orders to deploy for a period of not less than 90 days. To break a lease under these provisions, the servicemember must make the request in writing, and must include a copy of their orders.


When assigning personnel to units, the Coast Guard Personnel Service Center (PSC) tries to match up your desires with the needs of the Coast Guard to assign you to a unit that you desire. You may request to be a Seaman or a Fireman; however, the “needs of the service” will take precedence. One of your responsibilities as a Coast Guardsman is to remain available for worldwide assignment.

When making assignments, the Detailers at Enlisted Personnel Management (EPM) use a system to prioritize the desires of Coast Guard rated members.

Priority 1: Overseas restricted units (PATFORSWA) People assigned to these units get first priority.

Priority 2: Overseas Afloat and Polar Class Icebreakers
People assigned to these units have the next priority. This category includes cutters in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam, as well as Polar Class icebreakers.

Priority 3: CONUS Afloat, LEDETS, Company Commanders, Recruiters People assigned to cutters within the continental U.S., Law Enforcement Detachments.

Priority 4: Overseas Ashore
People assigned to shore units outside the continental U.S.

Priority 5: CONUS Ashore

Special Needs assignments: The Special Needs program is designed to identify Coast Guard members who have needs that can only be met in certain places. In order to be considered for assignment purposes, your special need must be documented by the Work-Life staff at your unit. If you have a dependent with a diagnosed and professionally documented long-term condition that falls into the categories of medical, physical, psychological or educational; contact your Work-Life staff and a determination will be made on your case before you are assigned to your next unit.

Leave and Liberty


Leave is the authorized absence of an individual from a place of duty, chargeable against the individual in accordance with applicable law. There are five types of leave available to active duty members:

Earned Leave

Earned leave is the amount of leave that has been saved, or accumulated to an individual’s credit, at any given date. Earned leave may indicate a negative leave balance, but must not exceed the amount of leave a member would normally earn during the remaining period of obligated active duty in the Coast Guard.

Advance Leave

Advance leave is leave granted to a service member, with pay and allowances, prior to its actual accrual based on the reasonably expectations that the amount advanced will be earned prior to the member’s separation.

Excess Leave

Excess leave is authorized leave over and beyond any earned or advance leave that can be granted. You will not receive pay and/or allowances during this leave period. A negative leave balance at the end of your enlistment is considered excess leave and you will be charged accordingly.

Sick Leave

Sick leave describes a period of authorized absence granted to persons while under medical care and treatment. Sick leave is not chargeable against your regular earned leave balance.

Emergency Leave

May be granted to service members by the commanding officer for emergencies within their or their spouse’s immediate family whenever the circumstances warrant and the operational situation permits. Immediate family includes: father, mother, spouse, children, brother, sister, or only living relative.


Liberty is defined as any authorized absence granted for short periods to provide a break from the working environment or for other specific reasons. Liberty is not charged as leave. There are two types of liberty.

Regular Liberty

Regular liberty is a period, not to exceed three days (72 hours), commencing at the end of the normal working hours on a given day and expiring with the start of normal working hours on the next workday.

Special Liberty

Special liberty is granted outside regular liberty periods for unusual reasons such as: rest after arduous duty, compensatory time off, emergencies, time for voting, special recognition etc.

Combining Leave and Liberty

A member may not be on leave, immediately return to a liberty status, then immediately resume leave status.

There is no Leave-Liberty-Leave.

You may, however, be in a liberty status, commence leave and return to a liberty status. Liberty-Leave-Liberty is authorized.

Liberty at Cape May

Liberty is time off from recruit training. It can be limited to Training Center grounds only, or your company may earn eleven hours off-base liberty in week seven of training. Liberty is a privilege that is earned and not automatically given to everyone. If you do not meet all required academic and physical fitness requirements you will not normally be afforded liberty. While on liberty, you represent the United States Coast Guard and should take pride in your service.

While on liberty, the consumption of alcohol by anyone under 21 years of age is not permitted. Excessive consumption of alcohol by any recruit which results in intoxication or the inability to perform duties will be punished according to current policy.

Morning and Evening Colors

Morning Colors

At 0755 hours, the PREP pennant is raised to the top of the crossarm. The PREP pennant is lowered to half-mast when “Attention” is sounded. At the beginning of the music, the national ensign is hoisted quickly and smartly to the peak or truck. When “Carry on” is sounded, signaling the end of colors, the PREP pennant is lowered all the way down. To half mast the ensign, first hoist the ensign quickly to the truck and then lower it slowly to half mast (Bottom of the National Ensign immediately above the crosstree).

Evening Colors

At evening colors (sunset), the procedure is the same as morning colors, except the national ensign shall be lowered at the start of the music and lowered slowly so that it is hauled all the way down at the end of the music. When lowering from half mast, you must first haul the national ensign smartly and quickly to the peak and then lower as prescribed above.

Family Information

The Coast Guard Family

As a new member of the Coast Guard, you become part of our “extended family,” and so do your personal family members. New members of the Coast Guard are often following a family tradition. Some new members are starting a new tradition and are the first Coast Guard members in their family. Whether you are new to the Coast Guard or not, it is vital that you pass along important information to your family. How you support your immediate family, and how you continue to fulfill your responsibilities to them are an important part of your military life. Emergency Contact Telephone Calls

In an emergency, your family should contact their local American Red Cross office. For questions or concerns of an urgent nature, they can reach the Battalion Officer at (609) 898-6715 or after-hours the Officer of the Day at (609) 898-6915.

Dependent ID Cards

If you have dependents, you will fill out the Application for Dependent ID Card after your arrival at Cape May. The application and letter explaining the procedure will be sent via mail to your spouse/ dependent. They will take the application to the nearest ID card issuing military installation and get a dependent ID card. If they are unable to get to a military installation prior to your graduation, your dependent may get a card issued either at Cape May (by appointment only) or at your first duty station.

WQSB and Drills

Emergencies on board a ship require teamwork. Each person has a specific job and role that they need to perform in order to meet and overcome any problems.

The WQSB displays the duties and responsibilities of each person during all ships drills and emergencies.

Man Overboard: Prompt action is necessary when there is a person overboard. Anyone who sees someone fall overboard should immediately sound the alarm by sounding off “MAN OVERBOARD, PORT/STARBOARD SIDE!” Drop/throw life rings or life jackets if possible. Try to keep the person in sight, and point in the direction of the person in the water. If you did not make the report and the man over board alarm sounds, report to your assigned station. A muster of the crew is held to find out who is missing.

Abandon Ship: Only the commanding officer can give the order of abandon ship. Important information will be passed, write this on the back of your hand. Acquire the equipment you are assigned and muster at your assigned raft.

Conditions of Readiness: Ships at sea and in port are always in a condition of readiness. Coast Guard cutters normally operate under one of four different conditions.

  • Condition I (General Quarters)
  • Condition III (Wartime Cruising)
  • Condition IV (Underway Peacetime) - Condition V (In Port Peacetime)

General Quarters: Condition I is General Quarters (GQ); all hands at battle stations. General Quarters is sounded whenever battle is imminent or when the highest state of readiness to meet a threat is desired. GQ must be set in seconds, not minutes.

General Emergency: The General Emergency Bill will not give detailed duties for every emergency, because it is impossible to prepare for all emergencies. The one thing all hands must remember is that they must carry out all orders from persons in authority with speed and precision. It is possible that any emergency may produce casualties; all hands must learn the general duties and responsibilities of the person senior to them, because they may have to take over.


Service Dress Blue

Service Dress Blue is suitable to wear on all occasions when wearing a uniform is prescribed or appropriate. 

Dress Uniform

Operational Dress Uniform ODU

The Operational Dress Uniform is a general purpose, everyday uniform intended for wear in any situation that does not require a dress uniform. The Operational Dress Uniform is authorized for wear while commuting in a private vehicle between the workplace and residence of the member, including brief non-social stops, such as for gas etc.


Tropical Blue

The Tropical Blue uniform is worn to compensate for climate variations. It is not acceptable at any event where a coat and tie would
be required. 

Tropical Uniform


Abbreviation Rate Name
AET Avionics Electrical Technician
AMT Aviation Maintenance Technician
AST Aviation Survival Technician
BM Boatswain’s Mate
DC Damage Controlman
DV Diver
EM Electrician’s Mate
ET Electronics Technician
FS Food Service Specialist
GM Gunner’s Mate
HS Health Services Technician
IS Intelligence Specialist
IT Information Systems Technician
IV Investigator (Reserve only)
ME Maritime Enforcement Specialist
MK Machinery Technician
MST Marine Science Technician
MU Musician
OS Operations Specialist
PA Public Affairs Specialist
SK Storekeeper
YN Yeoman


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