Commentary | Sept. 10, 2021

Faces of Snyder: The Navigation Team

By Senior Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir

Strengthening partnerships and testing interoperability, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Escanaba and Richard Snyder participated in Operation Nanook in early to mid-August.

Operation Nanook is the Canadian Armed Forces' signature Arctic operation, comprising a series of comprehensive, joint, interagency, and multinational activities designed to exercise the defense of Canada, security in the Arctic Region, incident management response, and search rescue capabilities in and around the Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait.

Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder participates in Operation Nanook in the Davis Strait Aug. 4, 2021. Snyder worked alongside Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba, the Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Harry Dewolf, and HMCS Goose Bay in Operation Nanook to enhance collective abilities to respond to safety and security issues in the High North through air and maritime presence activities, maritime domain defense, and security exercises. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Richard Snyder)This is the first year the U.S. Coast Guard sent a 154-foot fast response cutter. Richard Snyder is homeported in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, and named for Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Snyder, awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action, defending troops coming to shore on the Island of Biak at the western edge of Papua New Guinea in World War II. The cutter's motto is Never Yield. The service continues to stretch the legs of these vessels and test their full capability, including operations in high latitude environments. While these ships are not ice-strengthened, the team observed mitigations, such as the deployment time of year, and carefully considering operating areas.

But what is it like to be part of the crew on this adventure? We invite you to meet some of the Richard Snyder team and hear their stories!

Petty Officer 2nd Class Gayle Buchanan, electronics technician:

Hello, my name is Gayle Buchanan, and I am from Smithfield, Virginia. I knew I wanted to serve because most of my family is in the military, but I chose the Coast Guard because I love the water and knew I could always live near the water. Gearing up for this trip, I was excited to see icebergsA Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder small boat navigates in the Labrador Sea Aug. 13, 2021. Snyder worked alongside the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba, the Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Harry Dewolf, and HMCS Goose Bay in Operation Nanook to enhance collective abilities to respond to safety and security issues in the High North through air and maritime presence activities, maritime domain defense, and security exercises. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Richard Snyder) up close, and it was really fun to get the closest to an iceberg that I probably ever will. I love being out on the water and going to see places I wouldn't ever go otherwise. It can be hard sometimes missing things back home with my family, but this crew has become like family, and I wouldn't trade this experience with them for anything else.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachery Weber, boatswains mate:

Zachery Weber here from the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder! I am originally from Dothan, Alabama, and I joined the Coast Guard in 2014 to challenge myself and do my part to support our great USA. I wanted to save lives, and reporting to this cutter has made that possible. I am a third-generation Coastie following my father and grandfather. If my dad could join me underway, I know he would in a heartbeat! Being underway, I get the opportunity to witness the beautiful blue ocean and all of its wonder, especially catching a glimpse of the Arctic Circle. Nuuk, Greenland, was not a destination I ever thought I would visit while attached to a small cutter from North Carolina. But it was a blessing. Super friendly people, great food, and views that pictures cannot come close to describing.

Seaman Kenan Carter:

Hi, I'm Kenan Carter from Chicago! I'm a seaman aboard the Richard Snyder. I wanted to join the Coast Guard to serve my country; I have a lot of family in the military and saw it as a way to further my education. When I first joined, I didn't think I would like to go to sea but have grown to enjoy seeing new places and the relationships formed while being underway. Op Nanook has been a cool experience for many reasons, but personally, the best part is this was the first time I've left the country, and I got to go to a place I never thought I would visit.


Ensign JT Cox:

Hello, I am JT Cox, and I am the assistant navigator aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder! I am originally from San Diego, and I graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy this past May. One of the main reasons I joined the Coast Guard is because of my uncle, Rick Trent. He was the 7th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard and is a huge driving force behind why I chose to serve my country. After graduation, I decided to go to sea because I love being on the water. I also desired to be part of a small, close-knit crew, and I definitely found that aboard the Snyder! Being a newly reported ensign and then participating in Op Nanook has been eye-opening. I have learned a lot these past weeks and experienced so much in such a short amount of time. My favorite part of this operation is seeing how our country is expanding its capabilities in the Arctic. I am very interested in the diplomatic element of this operation and the strengthened relationships with our partners from Canada, Greenland, and Denmark. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything!