Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy, a boatswain’s mate assigned to Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in San Francisco, drives a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat near the Golden Gate Bridge on Feb. 8, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Female USCG Petty Officer Achieves Coveted Rank of Surfman

A San Francisco Coast Guard member has received the surfman designation, making her just the fourth active female service member to achieve the coveted rank.

Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy, 31, received the designation at a ceremony at Station Golden Gate on Friday. It is the highest rank in Coast Guard small boat operations, 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 has been a goal for me for more than a decade, and I’m excited to have made it,” Duffy said. “Dreams don’t care about gender. If you want something badly enough, and you’re willing to fight for it, you can do it.”

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, commanding officer of Station Golden Gate and the first woman ever to earn the surfman qualification for the 47-foot Motor Lifeboat, presented the award to Duffy on Friday.

“Mrs. Slade has been my mentor for years, and having her there to pin me is what really makes this amazing. I emailed her years ago, before I even knew her, and asked for advice on becoming a surfman,” Duffy said. “She told me no matter what, never give up. She was the one who blazed the trail for the rest of us to follow.”

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