Great Lakes Shipmate of the Week: Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Ely, Station Grand Haven, Mich.

Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, the city of Grand Haven hosts a variety activities on the water, ranging from water sports to sport fishing to maritime commerce.

The city, better known as Coast Guard City USA, has a rich history of supporting the Coast Guard dating back to the early 1900s. In its formative years, Grand Haven relied upon support from the U.S. Life Saving Service, the predecessor to the modern day Coast Guard, to assist mariners as they worked to supply natural resources like timber, to the Midwest. Today, the tasks of ensuring maritime safety and laws enforcement remain, falling on the 35 active duty and reserve personnel assigned to Station Grand Haven.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Ely receives an award during a Station Grand Haven all hands gathering.  U.S. Coast Guard Photo.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Ely receives an award during a Station Grand Haven all hands gathering.
U.S. Coast Guard Photo.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Ely, a boatswain’s mate, is one of the active duty members assigned to Station Grand Haven. Originally from Fairborn, Ohio, he joined the Coast Guard in 2010 and received orders to Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock in Port Huron, Michigan, after completing recruit basic training. There, he earned qualifications as buoy deck rigger, helm, lookout, anchor watch, and in port watch.  He also qualified in advanced damage control procedures, becoming an investigator and responding to shipboard casualties.  Ely reported to Station Grand Haven in August 2012 after earning his rating as a boatswain’s mate.  He quickly asserted himself as someone who is not afraid to take on additional tasking.  He certified as a communications watch stander as well as crew member on the unit’s small boats. 

In the spring of 2013 he attended coxswain school hosted by Station Grand Haven.  The school is offered to those who show exceptional maturity and judgment.  He then proceeded to attend boarding officer school and has since earned his certification.  A testament to his maturity and judgment, Ely has been authorized to serve as station Officer of the Day, a duty which places him responsible for 10 crew members, the unit, and 3 small boats.  This certification is usually only held by petty officers 2nd class and above. 

His leadership and knowledge of ice rescue earned him the certification as i team lead.  During the winter, he was the ice team lead during the demonstration for Fox 17’s piece on ice safety.   

When asked about his ultimate goal is at the station Ely stated, “My ultimate goal is to certify as coxswain and advance to second class.”

Petty Offier 3rd Class Travis Ely pilots one of Station Grand Haven's small boats.  U.S. Coast Guard Photo.

Petty Offier 3rd Class Travis Ely pilots one of Station Grand Haven’s small boats.
U.S. Coast Guard Photo.

Ely’s most significant accomplishments at the unit are best known in his collateral duty.  He is the station’s assistant rescue and survival petty officer who is in charge of approximately $100,000 in rescue and survival gear.  During the units recent ready for operations visit the R and S program received no discrepancies.  His attention to detail with logs was noted when the team arrived they were all in binders on the table ready for inspection.  This allowed the inspection team to save time reviewing and searching for logs. During recent inspections of the CG-1 strobe light in the boat crew survival vest he noticed a defect in the light.  The defect was that water would enter the light rendering it in operable.  Once he recognized the issue, he notified his command and the Office of Boat Forces prompting a Coast Guard wide repair to the lights.  This attention to detail saved the Coast Guard time, money, and possibly several lives.He sets the example off duty by volunteering for the Salvation Army Toy for Tots drive.  He assisted at a local church this holiday season helping less fortunate families pick out gifts for their children. 

To promote water safety Ely taught boating safety at Safe Kids Day 2014, an event is sponsored by the Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He taught children the importance of wearing a life jacket.  He geared his presentation towards the parents too, teaching them how to properly size their child for a life jacket. 

When not on duty or volunteering, Ely likes to enjoy the outdoor activities Michigan has to offer like fishing, hunting, hiking and canoeing.

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