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Coast Guard supermom achieves coveted rank of surfman

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Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy becomes the fourth woman to be awarded the rank of surfman, which allow her to navigate in extreme weather conditions. (Coast Guard)

It was a short ceremony, but one that does not happen very often.

Friday morning in Sausalito, Coast Guard officers from Golden Gate Station applauded as Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy did something few women have done.

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She was awarded the rank of surfman. It is the highest designation in the Coast Guard for small boat operations.

Duffy becomes just one of four active women who will be able to navigate a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat into extreme weather conditions. Imagine surf that is breaking at 20 feet and winds reaching 50 knots.

Duffy had to undergo intense training that takes up to six years to complete. To make the achievement even more special, she transferred to Golden Gate Station for the training when she was eight months pregnant.

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Golden Gate Station is one of 21 surf stations in the Coast Guard, with most of them in the West Coast where heavy surf often requires search-and-rescue emergencies.

Chief Warrant Officer Beth Slade awarded Duffy her surfman badge. Slade is the commanding officer of Station Golden Gate. In 2002, she became the first woman ever to earn surfman qualification.

Duffy's husband and two children attended the ceremony.

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