U.S. Coast Guard: Protecting America Since 1790

Coast Guard Day is celebrated on August 4th to commemorate the founding of this branch of the service back in 1790. The Coast Guard is one of the oldest organizations in the federal government and has played a vital role in the safety and security of the United States for over 225 years.

History of the Coast Guard

On August 4, 1790, the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, officially created the Revenue Cutter Service. It’s original role was to enforce federal tariff and trade laws, and to prevent smuggling. Ten vessels, called “cutters” were built. The Revenue Cutter Service was the only armed forces the United States had on the seas for eight years until the U.S. Navy was created.

During times of war, the Revenue Cutter Service was put at the disposal of the Navy. During peacetime, it continued to patrol the nation’s coastline and major waterways to prevent smuggling and to keep the areas secure.

In 1848 ,The U.S. Lifesaving Service was created. Until that time most lifesaving missions on the waterways were conducted by volunteer organizations.

In 1915, the U.S. Lifesaving Service and the Revenue Cutter Service were merged to become the U.S. Coast Guard and was officially designated as one branch of the armed forces.

Over time, the Coast Guard was given additional responsibilities. It absorbed the Lighthouse Service in 1939 and the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation in 1946. In 1967, the Coast Guard was transferred from The Department of the Treasury to the Department of Transportation. In 2003, the Coast Guard was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.

Modern Role of the Coast Guard

Today the Coast Guard is one of the most highly trained search and rescue forces in the world. In addition to a fleet of ships, it also has its own specialized helicopters and airplanes to help patrol the coasts of the United States. It has played a key role in disrupting the importation of illegal drugs, human trafficking, and other forms of smuggling.

The Coast Guard is not only restricted to the oceans. It operates in all of the major waterways of the country. Today, the Coast Guard is a key part of the Department of Homeland Security, helping to keep the United States free from terrorist attacks and the disruption of operations of foreign and domestic criminal enterprises.

Interesting Facts About the U.S. Coast Guard

  • The U.S. Coast Guard has its own flag
  • There are 56,000 members of the U.S. Coast Guard
  • The Coast Guard operates 243 Cutters, over 1,600 boats, and 201 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft
  • Every day the Coast Guard conducts 45 search and rescue missions, saves 10 lives, and saves over $1.2 million in property losses
  • The Coast Guard Academy is located in New London, Connecticut
  • Members of the Coast Guard have proudly served in every one of America’s declared wars
  • The Coast Guard has been deployed to stop suspected smugglers as part of the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan

Coast Guard Day is a time to celebrate the contributions of this important branch of the armed services which protects our freedoms and keeps our country safe. 

Aug 02, 2019 Staff

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