Winter Work Term: Andrej Klema ’25

Where are you working for the Winter Work term?
I have taken a year off from Webb to do ten months of “Winter” work. This includes one sea term and one office term. My office term is at the United States National Ice Center in Suitland, Maryland. My sea term is on U.S. Coast Guard Cutter POLAR STAR for Operation Deep Freeze 2023. We started our deployment in November, leaving from POLAR STAR’s homeport in Seattle, Washington. Our port calls so far have included: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Sydney, Australia; Hobart, Tasmania; and McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Upcoming ports include Punta Arenas, Chile; Valparaiso, Chile; and San Francisco, California.

Naval Architect in the Making: Andrej stands in front of the beautiful architecture dome of the Sydney Opera House, working alongside the U.S. Coast Guard Operations team throughout the summer.

Why are you interested in this company?
I have always been drawn to military service. One of the reasons why the Coast Guard appeals to me is the domestic focus of the missions. I appreciate how the Coast Guard missions are focused on serving the American people in a variety of ways from SAR to drug interdiction. I also appreciate how the Coast Guard is involved in action every day. Yes, some days are training missions, but between commercial, recreational, and illegal activity in our nation’s waters, airspace, and 360 ports, every day presents new action and an opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of everyday Americans. This does not even cover Coast Guard operations OCONUS, like the one I am a part of. Another reason why the Coast Guard appeals to me is its size and the opportunities that come with it. The Coast Guard is a small branch, and as a result, the community is tightly knit. In addition, the small size of the service means that there are many leadership opportunities for junior officers. In no other branch have I found that a Lieutenant Junior Grade can be a commanding officer. Finally, I have been raised to be a steward of the environment, and the Coast Guard’s missions for environmental protection and law enforcement are something that I take very personally and take great pride in being a part of. I am grateful for the opportunities the United States Coast Guard presents to help protect my homeland, take care of our environment, and save lives.

What was the most challenging task you faced during your internship, and did you overcome it?
The most challenging task I have faced during my internship so far has been creating an integration between our satellite data processing software and the ship’s navigation system. I was able to overcome this challenge by creating a diverse team of subject matter experts from a variety of different agencies and the software contractors. Together, we were able to de-bug the integration and use it during our operations in the Antarctic region. I will be continuing work on this project when I return to the U.S. National Ice Center in April.

What is the most memorable moment of your internship experience?
The most memorable moment of my internship experience has to be taking the Con of POLAR STAR as we turned on to an ice navigation trackline that I made from my software integration project.

Where do you see yourself after this internship (or after graduation)?
After graduation, I see myself commissioning into the Coast Guard on a career path towards becoming an Engineering Officer Afloat. I intend to do a full twenty years at minimum.

Conquering Icy Seas: Andrej is sailing aboard the heavy icebreaker, USCGC Polar Star, in support of Operation Deep Freeze.