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Coast Guard Auxiliary stands up unit to support Research and Development Center

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After receiving permission from Rear Adm. Tom Allan (center), First Coast Guard District commander, Bill Bowen (left), commodore of the Auxiliary’s First District, Southern Region, directs Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit Coordinator Bruce Buckley (at right) to stand up the Coast Guard Auxiliary unit that will support the Research and Development Center Aug. 26, 2020, in New London, Connecticut. U.S. Coast Guard photo.


The Coast Guard Auxiliary stood up a new unit Aug. 26 devoted exclusively to supporting research and development efforts conducted by the Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) in New London, Connecticut.

Rear Adm. Tom Allan, commander of the First Coast Guard District, and William Bowen, commodore of the Auxiliary’s First District, Southern Region, presided over the ceremony.

The newly established Auxiliary unit will support the RDC mission by coordinating requests for assets and skills in three focus areas: subject matter expertise, field research activities and public affairs.

“The new unit will collaborate with the Research and Development Center staff to find the best ways for Auxiliarists to directly support research,” Allan said. “I understand there are already no fewer than seven Auxiliarists with Ph.D.s who have joined the team. Furthermore, the unit has a public affairs element to help get the RDC story out.”

Capt. Daniel Keane, RDC commanding officer, said the new unit is unique and significant since it is the first Auxiliary unit dedicated solely to supporting the Coast Guard’s research and development efforts.

“The stand-up of this RDC Auxiliary unit formalizes a long-standing legacy of partnership and cooperation between the RDC and the Coast Guard Auxiliary,” Keane said. “From Alaska to Alabama to the Great Lakes, whether it was environmental studies, satellite communications or Arctic research, the Auxiliary has provided vital support to the RDC during its research and made valuable contributions to the nation’s R&D efforts. This unit will carry on that legacy and epitomize the innovation and creative thinking that made this partnership successful.”

In his remarks, Bowen discussed the evolution of the RDC/Auxiliary partnership, describing the relationship as “more than what was envisioned or what I could have hoped for.”

“The working relationship between the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Coast Guard Research and Development Center was born of necessity,” said Bowen, a retired Coast Guard senior chief quartermaster and senior special agent. “We can now offer prospective members an alternative to traditional roles, increase our footprint with the Coast Guard and provide much needed assistance to a vital mission area that encompasses many aspects of our combined varied mission sets including recreational boating safety.”

The RDC has been executing Coast Guard research priorities in southeastern Connecticut since 1972. In the last few years, the Auxiliary has become a key RDC partner in the execution of an array of research projects:

  • Worked side-by-side with RDC in field-testing alternatives to pyrotechnic signaling devices that resulted in a new hand-held electronic Visual Distress Signaling Device standard.
  • Helped with public prize competition challenges that included serving as technical judges and providing test assets to evaluate person-in-the-water detection technologies.
  • Assisted RDC personnel with constructing a ground control station in Fairbanks, Alaska, for a Department of Homeland Security-sponsored project on CubeSats, a type of miniaturized satellite for space research.
  • Created a documentary of large-scale oil burn research on Little Sand Island in Mobile Bay, Alabama.

Members of the new unit will join 2,900 Auxiliary members in the First Southern District and over 25,000 people nationwide in volunteer service to their country. Bruce Buckley has been named the new Auxiliary unit coordinator. He and the staff will develop a skills bank that matches Coast Guard research priorities to Auxiliary skill sets across the nation.

Keane said: “Mr. Buckley, as partners in this endeavor, I ask that, as you build this unit, you look for the best, brightest and most creative minds that the university and research communities have to offer, to participate in our applied research work.”

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For more information: Research and Development Center program page and Research, Development, Test and Evaluation program page