united states coast guard



R 250740 AUG 17
UNCLAS //N01710// 
ALCOAST 256/17
1. The Coast Guard Headquarters Office of Cutter Forces (CG-751), the Heart of the Service, is sponsoring a Sea Service Celebration centered around 18 October 2017 that honors the everyday traditions common aboard Coast Guard cutters, highlights shared experiences across all afloat platforms and recognizes the hard work done by members on board every cutter, culminating in a fleet-wide morale event. The tolling of eight bells is one of our most lasting nautical traditions as it symbolizes the beginning of the next watch. In early sailing days, a half-hour glass of sand would keep the time and as it was rotated, an individual stroke would be added to the tolling of the bell; two strokes for every hour of a four-hour watch.
2. Our Coast Guard grew from Alexander Hamilton’s ripple of an idea that “a few armed vessels, judiciously stationed at the entrances of our ports, might at small expense be made useful sentinels of the laws” to a mighty groundswell as today’s world premiere maritime service through the efforts of dedicated professionals serving in and supporting all types of cutters. On 18 October 1974, the Office of Personnel promulgated the Coast Guard Cutterman Insignia program, to “recognize the contributions and qualifications of our personnel…” Today, the Cutterman pin represents the personal fulfillment of the professional training and sea service associated with a seagoing Coast Guard career. Personnel who achieve this distinction stand out as significant contributors to the seagoing Coast Guard. Additionally, there are many serving who do not wear Cutterman pins yet make considerable contributions to the cutter community, and the Sea Service celebration calls special attention to their contributions as well.
3. As a Service, the Coast Guard has numerous awards to recognize stellar performers across all communities, but this celebration is the first to recognize all cutters. Eight Bells – A Sea Service Celebration is intended to recognize the hard work done by everyone who serves on a cutter, including career cuttermen, cuttermen-to-be, and those that support cutters, every day, all week, all year, on every type of cutter. Despite the diversity in missions and capabilities among the cutter classes, the time-tested sea going traditions unite and bind the entire cutter community together. A new crewmember can go aboard a cutter of any size or class and be comforted by the shared traditions of ringing of eight bells and testing the ship’s alarms and whistle at noon, completing underway checklists, checking the setting of material condition Yoke, the closing of the brow at first call to morning and evening colors, and, of course, 1000 coffee break for the crew among many others.
4. As part of Eight Bells – A Sea Service Celebration, COMDT (CG-751) encourages all cuttermen, operational commanders and cutter support elements to participate in the following events:
   a. Audio/Video contest: Submit an original audio or video clip of no more than 4 minutes around the theme of Eight Bells: A Sea Service Celebration. Submissions must incorporate the actual sounding of eight bells, and should highlight cutters’ sea service traditions. Winning videos will be posted on social media platforms, so do not use copyrighted music. For more information on this, and other public affairs policies and restrictions, reference the Coast Guard External Affairs Manual, COMDTINST M5700.13 (series) Chapter 3, Section H. Submit as .mov, .mp4, .wmv, or .avi formats to POCs in paragraph 5 below no later than 10 October 2017.
   b. Local events: All commands are encouraged to host appropriate functions that celebrate sea service traditions during the month of October, particularly on 18 October if possible. Suggestions include: local Cuttermen’s Calls, Dinings-In, or cutter round-ups with friendly competitions (DC Olympics, Shiphandling challenge, etc.). COMDT (CG-751) will notify local representatives of the Surface Navy Association, Navy League, CPOA, CWOA and CGOA of this celebration and will coordinate any cooperation with organizations that wish to participate. Notify POCs in paragraph 5 below of any planned events.
5. For more information, contact LCDR Natalia Best at or CDR Charlotte Mundy at
6. RDML Michael. P. Ryan, Assistant Commandant for Capability, sends.
7. Internet release authorized.