My Coast Guard
Commentary | Oct. 5, 2021

Creating room for mixed-gender crew

By Lt. Jake Mueller, Coast Guard Office of Civil Engineering

Station Morro Bay recently completA rendering of the Station Morro Bay expansion project.ed an expansion project on Sept. 1, 2021, to increase the necessary room needed to fully accommodate a mixed-gender crew. The station, which is within Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach’s area of responsibility, is home to 27 Coast Guard members and two 47-foot motor life boats. The project, awarded in August 2019, includes construction of a one-story 806 square foot addition onto the existing Morro Bay station building to provide additional crew berthing space and a new roof. The expansion creates room for up to six additional crewmembers, while at the same time allowing the station to integrate their overnight duty crew to be comprised with both women and men.

“The previous station accommodations had two duty rooms with the ability to house six people total,” explained Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Sheppard, Station Morro Bay’s executive petty officer. “Our overnight duty crews must be separated by gender – men in one duty room, women in the other. In order to be fully mission capable we need to have five overnight crewmembers – six during heavy weather.”

Sheppard went on to explain that though women are assigned to Station Morro Bay – and have been – prior to the expansion project, they could not always accommodate a mixed-gender duty crew due to the lack of space with it comes to berthing. 

“This means [women] would be excluded from performing the missions their assignment requires,” Sheppard said. “We needed a dedicated accommodation for [women] and we now have that with the building expansion. [Women] can now be completely integrated as a member of the unit without being excluded from missions or opportunities and without posStation Morro Bay expansion project finished construction in early September, 2021ing a significant burden to the operational readiness.”

This project was extremely complex because Station Morro Bay is hemmed in on all sides by the Morro Bay Harbormaster, limiting the space where the station would be able to expand. Civil Engineering Unit (CEU) Oakland and Facilities Design and Construction Center (FDCC) planned a small addition on the land the station already occupies. Once the design was complete in October of 2020, expired permitting, weather, COVID shelter in place orders, design approval from utility inspectors, construction rework, failed inspections, additional work, and supply shortages further delayed the project.  Finally, construction began on the $1.2 million expansion project in February 2021.

Despite the construction delays, quality of construction work did not suffer. The contractor, Advanced Technology Constructing’s (ATC) on-site quality assurance manager was diligent and thorough.  All aspects of construction were completed within rigid specifications, according to designs and codes. The final inspection revealed only one punch list item to resolve.  

Station Morro Bay’s 806 square foot expansion provides two additional berthing rooms for up to six additional members, two restrooms, and a room for rinsing and drying exposure suits. The expansion is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and all equipment integrates into the existing building’s computer, PA, fire detection and fire suppression systems. Station Morro Bay’s expansion project added the ability to fully accommodate mixed gender crews allowing the Coast Guard to host and embrace any member of our workforce at this location.