DV1 Shawn Price, of the U.S. Army Dive Team fronts his team during the annual Buoy Tender Olympics at Station Juneau on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

DV1 Shawn Price, of the U.S. Army Dive Team fronts his team during the annual Buoy Tender Olympics at Station Juneau on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Vying for Glory: These Olympic-style games make Coast Guard training fun

Competition is part of a weeklong training exercise for the buoy tenders

U.S. Coast Guard Station Juneau hosted the Buoy Tender Olympics Wednesday morning, a competition between boat crews and dive teams in Juneau for annual training.

Coast Guardsmen from the USCGS Henry Blake and Kukui, Army and Coast Guard divers, and Canadian Coast Guardsmen from the CCGS Bartlett competed in four teams over six events to win.

[See more photos from the event here]

The games are intended to give servicemembers a chance to use the skills they’ve been practicing in a friendly competition. Winners get nameplates for plaques aboard their vessels, said Coast Guard Public Affairs Specialist 3rd Class Amanda Norcross. The winner of the overall competition gets bragging rights until they return next year. Last year’s winner was the crew of the USCGC Sycamore, Norcross said.

“It’s to test your ability, bring people together and encourage camaraderie,” said Lt. Stephanie Bugyis, a Coast Guard officer with the 17th District.

The games pitted the crew of three ships and the divers, who formed a fourth team, against each other.

Army-Coast Guard team-up is going down

“It’s a good time, all the time,” said Capt. Chmara Zbignew, commander of the CCGS Bartlett, a Canadian buoy tender homeported in Victoria, Canada.

Canadian Coast Guardsmen of the Bartlett took part in the games as one of the four teams.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S.C.G Dive Team, U.S. Army Dive Team and the Canadian Coast Guard participate in the annual Buoy Tender Olympics at Station Juneau on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S.C.G Dive Team, U.S. Army Dive Team and the Canadian Coast Guard participate in the annual Buoy Tender Olympics at Station Juneau on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Games included a survival suit relay swim in the harbor, to and from a boat 25 meters from the pier.

“It’s fantastic,” laughed Sgt. Kenneth Byrd, an Army diver. “The Coast Guard definitely had the advantage suiting up — I’ve never worn one of those before,” Byrd said, of the Coast Guard’s bright orange survival suits.

Other games included a chain drag across the pier, a rescue line tossing competition, and an obstacle course where the competitors would use the ship’s cranes to maneuver a bucket of water through an obstacle course laid out on the deck below, trying to both move quickly and spill as little water as possible.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kukui participate in the heat and beat contest during the annual Buoy Tender Olympics at Station Juneau on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. Lt. Cdr. Ray Reichl, left, swings a sledge hammer with Lt. Cyrus Unvala as teammates Ens. Joseph Snyder and Ens. Victoria Sparacino hold the shackle and Enx. Reid Wiegleb yells encouragement. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kukui participate in the heat and beat contest during the annual Buoy Tender Olympics at Station Juneau on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. Lt. Cdr. Ray Reichl, left, swings a sledge hammer with Lt. Cyrus Unvala as teammates Ens. Joseph Snyder and Ens. Victoria Sparacino hold the shackle and Enx. Reid Wiegleb yells encouragement. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Wednesday’s competitions ended with the tug of war and the “heat and beat.” The tug of war was an intense competition, with the combined Army-Coast Guard divers eventually beating the crew of the Kukui for first place.

The “heat and beat,” where competitors heat a rivet with a blowtorch before two other team members sledgehammer it into a shackle, was the final event of the morning. Servicemembers looked on as their teams competed aboard the decks of the Henry Blake and the Kukui, hammering the red-hot rivets so they couldn’t escape the shackles, racing for time.

The winners will be announced on Friday as the week’s training event comes to an end with the conclusion of a cooking competition, before the ships and servicemembers return to their home ports across the oceans.

Marcos Saldarriaga, of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kukui, competes in the rope throw during the annual Buoy Tender Olympics at Station Juneau on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Marcos Saldarriaga, of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kukui, competes in the rope throw during the annual Buoy Tender Olympics at Station Juneau on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)


• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2271 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.


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