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Operations Division hosts boat operator training at Taylorsville Lake

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District
Published June 30, 2022

Employees from several U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District field offices recently participated in Motorboat Operator Training at Taylorsville Lake in Taylorsville, Kentucky.

The class is mandatory for anyone who operates a watercraft vehicle less than 26 feet in length at the district’s project sites. The course trains, tests, and licenses individuals as motorboat operators for the Louisville District.

“There is a lot of action that goes on during the boat class, and the skills learned during this course help our field staff perform their day-to-day work once they go back to their project,” said Jessica Grinnell Lee, Louisville District Technical Support Branch Operations Section chief.

The boat course was held June 21-24, and consisted of policy reviews, written exams and practical skills involving water drills, several maneuvering courses, docking, towing and much more. These lectures, demonstrations, group assignments, and practical exercises enable students to successfully perform their duties safely.

“We always tell them what they will be doing here so students can practice beforehand,” said Wayne Wilkinson, program manager. “Trailering is probably the hardest for students, but the main thing we are watching is for them to maintain their cool.”

The Louisville District’s Operation Division hosts two training courses each year for employees. Students include park rangers, lock personnel, maintenance staff, survey staff and regulatory staff. 

“I love being able to drive the boat,” said Jacob Kramer, Buckhorn Lake park ranger and Motorboat Operator Training student.

Each participant must take the initial 24-hour USACE-approved Motorboat Operator Course, usually held at Taylorsville Lake each year. Before attending the course, employees must also complete an on-line boating safety course that is certified by the National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrators.  Additionally, all motorboat operators must attend an 8-hour refresher course every five years to maintain their license. This helps to ensure employees who operate USACE boats/vessels will do so in a safe and prudent manner according to recognized Federal, state, and local laws and standards.

“When we are launching, retrieving or operating a boat, the public looks at us as the best-of-the-best, and we need to set the example and prove that our students are capable of representing the Corps the way it should be,” said Blake Smith, Carr Creek park ranger and USACE boat instructor.

The class included 12 students and five instructors.