Female coast guard officers feel joy and sorrows deeply
Fevzi Kızılkoyun – ISTANBUL
Coast guards feel the consequences of irregular migration flow deeply all the while experiencing the pride of saving a child and the sorrow of seeing corpses in their work life on a regular basis, women officers on active duty off the coast of Istanbul have said.
“It is a great source of happiness to complete a search and rescue operation without a problem, to chat and share with people you have rescued. Saving a life from drowning at the sea, especially if he or she is a child, is an idea of sheer bliss. We hug them and shed tears of happiness,” Coast Guard Lieutenant Esra Çamkerten told daily Hürriyet on Aug. 14.
“On the other side of the medallion, there are the moments when we face the corpses of the individuals we had been expecting to save, that’s the grieving part. What is more grieving is when they belong to babies or kids,” she added.
It is within their responsibilities to return the bodies of the victims to their kin.
“We pray not to face human corpses before sailing,” said Çamkerten, a former merchant shipping crew member.
Opting for coast guard
Çamkerten and her fellow colleagues work onboard the ship TCSG Güven, which docks at Istanbul piers. It is one of the four search and rescue ships sailing alongside the Bosphorus, a strait connecting the continents of Asia and Europe.
Lieutenant Gizem Kurtuldu Ercan, a graduate of Piri Reis University’s marine engineering department, said that she preferred being a coast guard officer to working in the private sector.
“I was impressed by the briefings of the commanders visiting the university. I was thrilled to serve my homeland, save lives and protect our seas instead of taking part in merchant shipping between ports,” she said.
“Search and rescue operations require great attention and discipline. For instance, when sailing with full steam to a coordinate address in case of a short notice, all the crew members from A to Z have duties to carry out. We are like the rings of a chain. Any mistake or negligence during the mission affects all the crew. Thus, everyone fulfils their duties precisely with utmost care and highest discipline,” she added.
Supply Sergeant Büşka Büyük said that she had always fancied the white uniforms of the naval high school students during her childhood.
“I dreamed of wearing those white uniforms and, as a matter of fact, I now serve in those uniforms in the blue seas. I followed my dreams and I have been involved in this profession for four years. Actually, I never deemed this profession as a job, it is my reason for being,” said Büyük.
Making a decision carefully comes at first on the list of advises she would give to young women who could choose to be a coast guard officer.
“Decide what to do and write it down on a paper. You can be a woman sergeant, a woman officer, flight crew member or a diver. You achieve your goals only if you believe that it is possible and you fight for it,” she said.