San Francisco Coast Guard member becomes 4th active female surfman

SAN FRANCISCO — A Coast Guard woman became the fourth active female surfman in the service during a ceremony at Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in Sausalito, Friday.

During the ceremony, Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy, 31, received the surfman designation, the highest certification in Coast Guard small boat operation, which allows rescue boat coxswains to operate in extreme weather and sea conditions.

As a surfman, Duffy is qualified to take a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat out in 20-foot breaking surf with 30-foot seas and 50-knot winds, reaching the boat’s operational limits.

“This is easily the best day of my career,” said Duffy. “The process was demanding and required a lot from me and my family. But I knew I wanted this, and I did what I had to do to get it done.” 

Coast Guard Station Golden Gate is one of 21 surf stations, where surf conditions greater than eight feet occur 36 days or more each year. Heavy surf often contributes to search-and-rescue emergencies in the Bay Area and along the Northern California coastline. 

Chief Warrant Officer Beth Slade, the commanding officer of Station Golden Gate, presented Duffy’s award. In 2002, Slade became the first woman ever to earn the surfman qualification for the 47-foot Motor Lifeboat.

“The surfman pin is more than just boat driving,” said Slade. “It’s leadership. It’s calm under pressure. This is an accumulation of everything she’s done in the Coast Guard.” 

The surfman title dates back more than 200 years to the U.S. Life-Saving Service. 

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