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Prospective Surfmen

Station Surf Operations


Throughout their 44-year history, the U.S. Life Saving Service (USLSS) is credited with saving over 178,000 persons.The mainstay of the USLSS was the surfmen – men who crewed lifeboats and performed daring and often amazing rescues. The USLSS passed on its legacy of lifesaving - and its surfmen - to the United States Coast Guard in 1915. Today, the title of surfman is reserved for the service’s most highly trained boat handlers. Surfmen are the only coxswains qualified to operate rescue boats in breaking surf conditions. Surf is both unpredictable and treacherous, and requires the utmost boat driving skill and mastery. Of the 188 boat stations currently in the Coast Guard, 20 stations are located in areas with surf conditions that require surfmen. Surfman qualification is the pinnacle of professionalism at these units.


Any SNBM, BM3, BM2 or BM1 can enter training to become a surfman, but few have what it takes! The training is very demanding and can take anywhere from 1 to 6 years. Only 1 out of every 25 BM1 or BM2s will achieve qualification as surfman and become part of this elite community. Throughout their careers, Surfmen often prove to be among the service’s most outstanding achievers; currently 35% of BMCMs and 25% of BMCSs are qualified surfmen.


Surfmen are the Coast Guard’s elite boat coxswains; only they are permitted to wear the surfman insignia. The Coast Guard Surfman insignia recognizes the highest level of boat operations experience and the immense responsibility that Surfmen undertake in the performance of their duty, and embodies a strong sense of pride and history. Its design is based on the insignia of the USLSS: those who wear it wear it with pride, carrying on a tradition and honoring our legacy of lifesaving.


If you think you have what it takes to be a surfman, enroll in the Prospective Surfman Program today! Check out the Surfman Program website maintained by the National Motor Life Boat School.

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Last Modified 11/7/2014