Great Lakes Shipmate of the Week: BM2 Joseph D. Wesley, USCGC Mackinaw, Cheboygan, Mich.


As a break-in Coxswain, Petty Officer Joseph Wesley (green hardhat) executes a boat raising detail on the deck of CGC MACKINAW after returning from an ATON mission on Lake Michigan. US Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Erik Johnson.

As a break-in Coxswain, Petty Officer Joseph Wesley (green hardhat) executes a boat raising detail on the deck of CGC MACKINAW after returning from an ATON mission on Lake Michigan.
US Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Erik Johnson.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Wesley, a native of Chicago, reported to Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, homeported in Cheboygan, Michigan, in June 2013. Throughout his nearly 10-year Coast Guard career, Wesley has served at a variety of units including: Station Marblehead, Ohio; Station Two Rivers, Wisconsin; and Training Team East Portsmouth, Virginia.Since reporting to Mackinaw, he has diligently worked toward qualifying in his watch stations. He is a certified small-boat crew member and ice rescue team leader, and is well on his way to getting coxswain qualified.  Wesley has also qualified as an in-port security watch stander, junior officer of the deck and both basic and advanced damage control.  He utilized his previous experience in the Coast Guard 9th District to become an ice rescue instructor onboard the cutter.

“Wesley’s ice rescue training is motivating and his leadership inspires the team to work together,” said current ice rescue team member, Seaman Slade Comstock.

As the only navigational boatswain’s mate assigned to the cutter, he holds a pivotal job as the petty officer in charge of all bridge preparation during missions and holds the responsibility of senior JOOD.

Petty Officer Joseph Wesley conducts LE training in CGC MACKINAW’s training room for crew members during transit time between ATON missions. US Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Erik Johnson.

Petty Officer Joseph Wesley conducts LE training in CGC MACKINAW’s training room for crew members during transit time between ATON missions.
US Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Erik Johnson.

“Petty Officer Wesley has become the ‘go to’ person on the bridge and has ensured the cutter was ready for any tasking,” said Cmdr. Michael Davanzo, commanding officer of Mackinaw.  Wesley has exceeded expectations in a short amount of time and became the primary aids- to-navigation positioning officer using a new program called APPS Silver. The crew of Mackinaw is in charge of more than 60 aids to navigation, so his expertise and attention to detail is critical to ensuring the safe navigation of commercial shipping on the Great Lakes.    “It has been a pleasure to watch his professional development take off and his willingness to accept greater responsibility,” said Davanzo. 

Petty Officer Joseph Wesley prepares to embark on a small boat mission to verify the correct positioning of selected Aads to navigation in Lake Michigan. US Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Erik Johnson.

Petty Officer Joseph Wesley prepares to embark on a small boat mission to verify the correct positioning of selected Aads to navigation in Lake Michigan.
US Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Erik Johnson.

The 2013-14 ice season in the Great Lakes region saw one of the largest ice buildups in recent history. Wesley’s expertise in navigation and his personal stamina played a crucial role ensuring more than 33 million tons of dry bulk and liquid cargoes, valued at $1.2 billion, reached their destination during the 160-day long Operation Taconite.   In addition to ATON and ice breaking, the crew of Mackinaw is a critical law enforcement platform.  As a qualified boarding officer, Wesley led the way in training boarding team members.  “Wesley becoming an LE instructor has been vital in keeping required qualified crew member numbers up for law enforcement operations,” said Chief Petty Officer Erik Johnson, command chief of the Mackinaw. “With a third of the crew changing out during transfer season every year, we would have great difficulty ensuring we are ready for those operations without his training ability and LE aptitude.”

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