U.S. Coast Guard Seaman Apprentice Eric Annis has citizenship in two countries and aboard two ships.

Annis is currently keeping watch and manning the helm aboard the Cutter Steadfast while he awaits transfer to the new buoy tender that will sail to Astoria next year. Annis, 19, has been in the Coast Guard for nine months and visited ports in Oregon, Washington, California and Wisconsin.

Annis came to Astoria about five months ago to work on the Cutter Cowslip, which was decommissioned in December.

"They had me do a training on the new kind of boat we'll be getting in Astoria," he said.

For the training, Annis traveled to Marinette, Wis., where the replacement buoy tender, the 225-foot Fir, was constructed.

"They wanted me to stay in Astoria and do something local," he said of the Steadfast, which is homeported in Astoria. "Rather than doing buoy tending, we're doing patrolling."

Annis's seaman apprentice rank is a what the Coast Guard calls a "non-rate," which means he's still learning the basics of deck operations. He mans the helm, stands lookout and aids the dispatch of smaller boats. Annis typically alternates between four hours on duty and eight hours off. But if a crew needs to inspect ships coming into U.S. waters, Annis must be ready to help dispatch the boat.

"Our work schedule really fluctuates," he said. "It's just the needs of the Coast Guard."

Annis hopes to become part of the boarding team eventually, but his immediate goal is to earn a rank, for which he must past several qualifications.

"It's just how far and how motivated you are," he said.

That's a lesson Annis learned before he entered the Coast Guard. He grew up in Bellingham, Wash., and his father's friend was a member of the Coast Guard.

"That really kind of propelled my interest in going into the Coast Guard."

He was enticed by the self-motivation aspect, the opportunity to travel, and the prospect of future work in law enforcement.

"Every evolution that we do is a team aspect," Annis said. "The Coast Guard has a lot of opportunity for law enforcement. I don't know if I'll make the Coast Guard a career or not."

Annis said he might enjoy joining his father, who patrols the border between the United States and Canada. Both the border patrol units and the Coast Guard have now become part of the Homeland Security Department.

Annis was born in Alberta, Canada, to a Canadian mother and American father. He holds dual citizenship in Canada and the United States.

When in port, Annis enjoys hiking and swimming and spends time with his fiancee and family, who live in Bellingham. As for the hazards of sea-going life, Annis said he only experiences seasickness on the first day at sea.

"Only across the bar. That bar is kind of crazy."

- Jennifer Collins


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