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Feature Story

Date: May 9, 2011

Contact: CGA Public Affairs

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Cadet Projects Make an Impact in the Coast Guard

Every year, first class cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., are assigned a capstone project that incorporates the skills learned from four years of major-specific classes and the leadership and teamwork values cadets learn at the academy. At the end of their senior year, the cadets host the Cadet Research Symposium to present and demonstrate their ideas. All of these projects are designed to advance and enhance the Coast Guard.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadets Tom Morrow, Katie Spira, Alex Brown and Trent Meyer pose for a photo after presenting the modified flare tube launch during the 2011 Research Symposium held at the academy in New London, Conn., April 28, 2011. The launcher is predicted to save the Coast Guard up to $500,000 in labor and production costs. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadets Tom Morrow, Katie Spira, Alex Brown and Trent Meyer pose for a photo after presenting the modified flare tube launch during the 2011 Research Symposium held at the academy in New London, Conn., April 28, 2011. The launcher is predicted to save the Coast Guard up to $500,000 in labor and production costs. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings.

This year, one group of cadets were given an assignment to modify the flare launch tube on the HC-144A Ocean Sentry aircraft – a plane used to perform various missions, including maritime patrol and cargo and personnel transport. 

The flare launch tube currently used by the Coast Guard releases a flare from the Ocean Sentry into the water to mark the location of an incident during search and rescue missions. The aircrew is then responsible for replacing the used flare, which takes approximately 45 minutes. With each removal and installation, the tools, aircraft and bolts holding the device in place are in jeopardy of being damaged.           

With these considerations in mind, the group analyzed, researched and designed a modified flare launch tube. The flare launch tube would be unobstructed to the aircrew during missions, easily removed and installed in 15 seconds, decrease the amount of damage to the bolts and aircraft and save the Coast Guard more than $500,000 a year in labor and production costs.

“The cadets developed the idea and solved a real-world problem for the HC-144 fleet,” said Coast Guard Academy Civil Engineering Section Chief Cmdr. Charles Hatfield, the group advisor for the project.

The modified flare tube launcher is currently being assessed for safety and durability before being approved by the Coast Guard, said group member First Class Cadet Tom Morrow.

“The cadet’s design has been given a Coast Guard part number - applying for a government patent, and Aviation Logistics Center is going to introduce this new part to the operational HC-144 fleet over the summer,” said Hatfield.              

Though many of the ideas and designs presented during the symposium may just remain ideas and designs, First Class Cadet Katie Spira, member of the flare tube launch group advises fellow cadets to never give up.         

“If you love it, stick with it,” said Spira. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding, especially if you see your designs go somewhere.”

“The symposium is a great opportunity for cadets to highlight their work and accomplishments at the academy,” said Hatfield. “I always get excited about the Research Symposium, and I know our cadets are proud of their work and the significant accomplishments that they have achieved.”

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