Great Lakes Shipmate of the Week: Seaman Kelson Thomas, Aids to Navigation Duluth, Minn.

Seaman Kelson Thomas joined the Coast Guard March 6, 2012. His reasoning for joining the Coast Guard was to follow in the footsteps of his father Roger Thomas, a former Coast Guard quartermaster and his brother Brandon Thomas, a Coast Guard electronics technician. Upon his graduation from Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, New Jersey, April 27, 2012, Thomas received orders to Coast Guard Station Duluth, Minnesota, where he was stationed until his transfer to Aids to Navigation Team Duluth.

Seaman Kelson Thomas assists with removing buoys from the water before the onset of ice season. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Justin Olson.

Seaman Kelson Thomas assists with removing buoys from the water before the onset of ice season. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Justin Olson.

Since being stationed at ANT Duluth, Thomas has become a valuable asset to the unit due to his strong desire to acquire knowledge. He has been a mentor to two newly reported seamen, and he has gone out of his way to ensure that they received all the proper training and guidance to prepare them for their assigned duties. Thomas was recently given the title of Leading Seaman, a title that is assigned to someone who has a vast knowledge of skills, strong working dexterity, positive attitude and an overall understanding of how the unit functions as a team. Thomas has taken the initiative to learn more about the responsibilities of the ratings offered at ANT Duluth, which has since been applied to assist the unit’s only electrician’s mate, Petty Officer 2nd Class Omar Zaldivar.“Thomas was instrumental in troubleshooting the CST’s air conditioning system, replacing the HVAC control, assisting with maintenance on the Duluth South Outer Lighthouse, and calibrated the VM-100 fog signal,” said Zaldivar. “These tasks are typically assigned to me, but due to Seaman Thomas’s enthusiasm and initiative, he was able to assist in getting these tasks completed in a timely fashion.”Prior to the harsh winter months in Minnesota, personnel at ANT Duluth are tasked with removing all the foam buoys from the St. Louis River, which outlets into Lake Superior, as well as exchanging all the summer buoys with ice-hull buoys. This is done to prolong the life expectancy of the summer buoys.

Seaman Kelson Thomas guides the crane operator while transferring buoys to the pier. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Justin Olson.

Seaman Kelson Thomas guides the crane operator while transferring buoys to the pier. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Justin Olson.

Thomas played a large part in ensuring that this annual project was completed by being qualified as an ATON crewmember on all the platforms at ANT Duluth. “Being a fully-qualified boat crew member aboard both the Boat Utility Stern Loading and Trailerable Aids to Navigation Boats is instrumental due to the numerous jobs there are in commencing and completing a buoy evolution safely and effectively,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Paul Vazquez, Thomas’s immediate supervisor. “Due to his knowledge and proficiency, Thomas was able to properly train and instruct the trainees at every position there is on deck aboard the BUSL and TANB.”“He is positive, professional and inspires all members to live by the core values of the Coast Guard,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Justin Olson, officer in charge at ANT Duluth. “He has embraced the words honor, respect and devotion to duty and strives to follow them whole heartedly.”

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