OSMS and YOU: Boat Forces Operations

This blog post is the ninth in a series of posts highlighting the various specialties and sub-specialties offered by the recently launched Officer Specialty Management System. Stay tuned as we share key information about each specialty/sub-specialty in the coming weeks!


Written by Cmdr. Mark Moland

When the Coast Guard saves a life, 80% of the time, the individual thanks a Coast Guard boat crewmember. Seventy-seven percent of all boarding and sightings are due to Coast Guard boat crews protecting our shores. The Boat Force community represents 10,000 Coast Guard men and women stationed at nearly 300 units always ready to save and defend our nation. Boat Forces operations are indeed the “soul of the service.” Although primarily an enlisted community, officers fulfill a critical role overseeing and leading boat forces operations. Whether leading deployable specialized forces, or coordinating operations from a Sector, the Boat Forces Operations sub-specialty (OAR-14) identifies officers knowledgeable in boat operations.


The Boat Forces operations subspecialty recognizes officers with the following experience, training and competencies:


  • Experience: Officers must have at least 18 months in a designated response-oriented position, including Sector Response Department, MSST, MSRT, PSU, MFPU, Sector RFO team, SMTC, TRACEN Yorktown Boat Forces Center or STAN team, and Office of Boat Forces (CG-731). Individuals with experience overseeing boat operations at Western River Sectors, Marine Safety Units, and Marine Safety Detachments may also count that tour towards this requirement.
  • Competencies: Officers are required to demonstrate competency in boat operations and the mission areas most common to stations. Required competencies include:


  1.   Boat Crew Member: Certify as crewmember on a standard Coast Guard boat.
  2.   Law Enforcement competency: Since Boat Forces units are routinely engaged in
  3.   Law Enforcement operations, OAR-14 requires certification as at least Boarding Team Member.


  • Training:
  1. Search and Rescue: SAR is the core mission for boat forces dating back to our days in the U.S. Lifesaving Service. OAR-14 requires completion of a SAR course, to include SAR Fundamentals, Maritime SAR Planning or SAR Supervisor.
  2. Boat Forces PQS: Officers must complete the standard PQS for the Boat Forces Operations Insignia outlined in COMDTISNT M16114.30(series).

Officers who have earned their Boat Forces Advanced Operations (Pewter-and-Gold) Insignia have satisfied these requirements. CG-731 is current revising the requirements to achieve the Boat Forces Insignia including a complete overhaul of the PQS. A draft of the new PQS is available here.

Apply for a Boat Forces Officer Specialty Code today by visiting the Officer Personnel Management, OPM-3 website.

Visit the Boat Forces intranet website for visibility on what’s Hot and New in Boat Forces.

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