SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
As you traverse the base, every now and then you may spot a service member wearing blue fatigues which are quite different from the majority of service members here. This is the service uniform of the United States Coast Guard and there two individuals affiliated with it.
They are Chief Warrant Officer Rebecca Ruch, Coast Guard Navigation Center GPS Analyst and Rick Hamilton, Coast Guard Navigation Center GPS Information Analysis Team lead.
“With the exception of a contingent of Coast Guard personnel at Northern Command, Chief Warrant Officer Ruch and I are probably the only Coast Guard personnel you will see routinely coming and going at 2nd Space Operations Squadron,” said Hamilton.
The Coast Guard was founded Aug. 4, 1790, as the Revenue Marine at the behest of Alexander Hamilton who was the Secretary of Treasury at the time. In the 226 years since the Coast Guard has been established, it has seen a myriad of changes from structure to name. It wasn’t until 1915 it was were recognized as the United States Coast Guard.
While the Coast Guard primarily serves on the nation’s waterways, the GPS mission brings them to this landlocked base on the Colorado plains.
According to Ruch and Hamilton, NAVCEN maintains a website that provides the public with technical GPS interface documents and the daily operational GPS data files that come from the GPS master control station. Also, the GPS Information Analysis Team here at the Navigation Center manages day-to-day GPS inquiries and disruption reports from all over the world.
“In my capacity as CGSIC Executive Secretariat, I attend various government and DOD meetings of the GPS program, both domestic and international, to represent the public and advocate for the civil use of GPS,” said Hamilton.
“I maintain open lines of communication with 2nd Space Operations Squadron and GPSOC in regards to the resolution of GPS disruption reports. At least one retired member of the Coast Guard is currently working within GPSOC,” said Ruch.
Their commitment to the GPS mission currently, and the Coast Guard at large combined exceeds 60 years.
“I've been in the Coast Guard for almost 25 years. I started my journey with the Coast Guard in 1991 as a small-boat crewman and engineer at a small-boat station in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I've worked my way up through the enlisted ranks from E-2 through E-7 and last year was selected for appointment to
Chief Warrant Officer,” said Ruch.
“I’ve been a part of the Coast Guard now for 36 years, first on active duty retiring after 28 years and now as a government service employee, said Hamilton. “My work has taken me all over the world and provided a very rewarding career. I count myself grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the U.S. Coast Guard in service to our great nation.”
The Coast Guard is part of the GPS team effort to provide the Gold Standard in navigation and timing to users worldwide.
“NAVCEN is the main point of contact for worldwide, non-aviation, civil users of GPS. It is vital that NAVCEN maintain a working relationship with the operators of GPS to provide the communications conduit for the billions of GPS users and the operators of GPS,” said Ruch.
“NAVCEN and 2 SOPS/GPSOC have been partners in GPS since 1991,” added Hamilton. “We work with 2 SOPS on a daily basis to provide data products from the GPS Master Control Station destined for public dissemination and for answering inquiries from the world’s civil users of GPS.”
The Coast Guard’s public engagement can help the GPS mission.
“When events occur in the GPS program we have list servers that send the information out across the world to GPS users, scientists, educators and researchers that are working with the GPS signals. In fact, often, it is someone from that civil GPS community that tells us when something goes wrong and NAVCEN gets that information back to the Air Force to see if we can figure out what caused an anomaly.”
There has been speculation about the Coast Guard’s GPS role to evolve in the future, but that doesn’t change the team’s current focus.
“Who knows what the future holds for our partnership with the Air Force and GPS. Together, the Coast Guard Navigation Center and the Air Force 2nd and 19 SOPS will continue to strive for better GPS service tomorrow than we have today for the world’s users of GPS,” said Hamilton.
For more information about the mission of the Coast Guard Navigation Center visit their website to view their NAVCEN 101 presentation: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/NAVCEN_101.pdf.