Let’s face it. The Coast Guard cop a lot of heat. They’re constantly teased about not necessarily being part of the Department of Defense and they’ve often been brushed off as the military branch that no one has a whole lot of respect for.
But in all actuality, these stereotypes have no real basis in fact and service members in the Coast Guard are every bit as gritty and impressive as any other group in the military. And yes – that includes the special forces.
Here, we’re talking all about the Coast Guard MSRT. MSRT stands for Maritime Security Response Team and they’re the full-time counter-terrorism assault arm of the US Coast Guard, formerly part of the Coast Guard’s Deployable Operations Group (DOG). Even that description screams total badassery.
Those within the Coast Guard MSRT train with the best of them and even sometimes work right alongside Navy SEALs. Their duties require it since they’re the first responders to terrorist situations where it becomes necessary to board a hostile vessel in all waters, both domestic and overseas.
If you immediately thought of pirates when imagining taking back a volatile ship, you’re right. The Coast Guard MSRT is the first call when dealing with the likes of Black Beard. Ok – maybe we’ve seen too many Pirates of the Caribbean movies but it’s somewhat true. The Coast Guard MSRT is the go-to team in dealing with piracy and any threat at sea.
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So, if learning to take over hijacked ships and neutralizing terrorist situations on the open waters worldwide sounds like an exciting career path for you, here, we’ll be going over the requirements necessary to become part of the Coast Guard MSRT, their selection process, and what happens in the training period.
And, even if you’re not looking to take down pirates, it might shed some light on the facts and change your perception of the Coast Guard in general.
Coast Guard MSRT Requirements
Requirements for joining the Coast Guard MSRT is a long list. That’s because these positions are highly mentally and physically demanding, requiring the use of high-risk tactics.
In addition to meeting the overall requirements of joining the Coast Guard like being a US citizen and meeting certain educational requirements, you’ll also be required to meet certain fitness standards, the minimums of which are as follows:
- Run 1.5 miles in under 12 minutes
- Swim 500 yards in under 20 minutes
- Complete 40 push-ups in under 1 minute
- Complete 40 sit-ups in under 1 minute
- Complete 5 pull-ups
- Complete 5 chin-ups
- Swim 100 yards in full ODUs and boots (no time requirement)
It’s also important to note that these standards are not variable based on age or gender meaning that no matter how old you are or whether you’re male or female, these requirements remain the same.
You’ll also require a security clearance to hold a position with the Coast Guard MSRT which means you’ll undergo a rather extensive military background check.
During a military background check, the Department of Defense will go through your records to make sure you don’t have a criminal background and that you’re an honest, upstanding citizen.
Your financial records might also come under investigation and for higher security clearances your spouse, family, friends, employers, and colleagues might also be interviewed about your character.
All of these measures are standard procedure and it’s important to the nation that only the most trustworthy people who have the best interests of the country are able to gain access to military secrets.
Coast Guard MSRT Selection
We’ll go into more detail about the training process of becoming a part of the Coast Guard MSRT in the next section, but we’ll start here by saying that much of the details are well-hidden.
That means we don’t have a lot of statistics about MSRT selections either. It’s important to national security that many of their methods are kept under wraps which means we don’t have all the facts about the selection process after training is completed.
But, as you’ll see when we explore the training methods used to help prepare Coast Guard MSRTs for their duties in the field, it’s likely that the selection process is quite exclusive.
As with any special forces unit, only a small fraction of those who attempt to secure a spot on these teams ever actually reach graduation – which makes sense. The military is looking for the best of the best when it comes to Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, Coast Guard MSRTs, and the like.
After all, you need to be in peak physical condition, be willing to risk life and limb, and have the ability to think quickly on your feet. Not to mention all the technical knowledge necessary including how to deal with explosives, negotiation tactics, and close- and long-range combat techniques. Plus, after the military background check, it’s likely that many other hopefuls will be weeded out to create an even smaller group.
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Overall, the Coast Guard MSRT is an elite group of soldiers and the selection criteria are rigorous. It should be expected that only a small portion of those who go for the position will succeed.
Coast Guard MSRT Training
As for training to become part of the Coast Guard MSRT, their tactics are quite under wraps. In fact, the entire operation is little-known to many outsiders, which is a good thing for national security.
However, it is known that Coast Guard MSRTs often train with Navy SEALs, whose training regiments are very well-known to be some of the toughest in the world. But they also often use real-life situations to train service members using simulations and role-playing.
For example, one exercise might be responding to a tourist ship in Miami being taken over by terrorists with civilians on board. It’s up to the Coast Guard MSRTs to silently climb onboard, employ their night-vision gear and practice hand signals, and reclaim the ship from the hijackers while keeping the tourists safe from harm.
During these types of training scenarios, the MSRTs might also be required to diffuse an explosive, arrest the terrorists, and complete other necessary tasks that require improvisation and trusting your skills.
An effective time frame for dealing with these types of simulations could be regaining control of the situation in as little as 45 minutes. That’s pretty impressive if you ask us.
In terms of a more specific training regimen, the details aren’t available but if they’re anything like what the Navy SEALs go through before graduation, it’s intense.
Navy SEAL training is done in multiple stages. The main chunk of training is called BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training) which lasts 24 weeks. Then, they go through the 28-week SEAL qualification training before they earn the title. Then, it’s even more training to prepare for deployment which can last as long as 30 months!
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And to give you an idea of the difficulty level, only about 1% of those of seamen who enter BUD/S (just the first part of Navy SEAL training) are able to finish it.
Therefore, if Coast Guard MSRT training is anywhere as intense as Navy SEAL training, then it’s incredibly difficult and only a small number of those who attempt it will make it through.
To wrap things up, it essentially goes without saying that dealing with pirates and terrorists on the open sea calls for some of the strongest soldiers, both in body and mind, to take on the challenges that the duties of Coast Guard MSRTs present. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.
What do you think? Do the MSRTs change your mind about the Coast Guard being the butt of your jokes? We think it should.