Arn Heggers, who for the past four years has been Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Examiner for the Marine Safety Office in Portland, took on a new job in July, that of Civilian Coast Guard Port Security Specialist for Portland’s Marine Safety Office. The 50-year-old former Coast Guard officer seems well qualified for this position; in fact, one might say this Army brat who spoke and wrote French before he spoke and wrote English because his father was stationed outside Verdun, France, in the 1940s, has been preparing for his new job in many different ways for almost 30 years.
There’s a story behind the unusual name: Heggers’s mother named her son after comic book hero Prince Valiant’s son, Prince Arn, because she loved Prince Valiant comics as a girl, and her baby shared Prince Arn’s coloring.
Within three years after graduating from the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry because the Coast Guard Academy was closing out its department of Marine Science (he’d wanted to major in oceanography or marine biology after learning to scuba dive at the age of 12), Heggers began his career in Marine Safety, doing accident investigations and vessel inspections. Of his education, he has said, ” A lot of courses helped with marine safety. I’ve used the physics part in marine investigations.”
Nine years later, after being stationed at Yorktown, Virginia, and New York, Heggers returned to the Coast Guard Training Center in Yorktown, and began training other Marine Safety officers.
While stationed at Yorktown, Heggers got his Masters degree in Education and Human Development from an extension campus of George Washington University. In an accelerated program, he said, “I knocked out a three-credit course every two months.”
Heggers continued to serve in Marine Inspection, Marine Safety, and in teaching those studies at several Coast Guard offices and the Coast Guard Training Center. Until his retirement from Active Duty in August of 2000, his last assignment was as Commanding Officer, Captain of the Port and Federal On-Scene Coordinator/ Incident Commander for the Marine Safety Office in Chicago, IL. He then moved to Maine because his wife, Sherry-Lynn, is a Westbrook native.
“I dragged her around for twenty years, I couldn’t get assigned to Maine and had to retire to do it.”
Retirement meant taking on a new job, that of Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Examiner for the Marine Safety Office in Portland, which is how most fishermen and recreational boat owners in the state have gotten to know him over the past four years. In fact, many will miss his lucid explanations of why something needs to be done to make a vessel safer.
As Civilian Coast Guard Port Security Specialist for Portland’s Marine Safety Office, Heggers will be implementing the new security regulations, conducting exercises and training, finding loopholes and getting them fixed.