The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of seven uniformed services. In addition to being a military branch at all times, it is unique among the armed forces in that it is also a maritime law enforcement agency (with jurisdiction both domestically and in international waters) and a federal regulatory agency. It is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, and can be transferred to the Department of the Navy by the President during a time of war. The Coast Guard motto is "Semper Paratus", Latin for "Always Ready" or "Always Prepared".
As one of the five armed forces and the smallest armed service of the United States, its stated mission is to protect the public, the environment, and the United States economic and security interests in any maritime region in which those interests may be at risk, including international waters and America's coasts, ports, and inland waterways.
The Coast Guard has eleven statutory missions, which are listed below in this article.
The Coast Guard, in its literature, describes itself as "a military, maritime, multi-mission service within the Department of Homeland Security dedicated to protecting the safety and security of America."
In addition, the Coast Guard has separate legal authority than the other four armed services. The Coast Guard operates under Title 10 of the United States Code and its other organic authorities, e.g., Titles 6, 14, 19, 33, 46, etc., simultaneously. Because of its legal authority, the Coast Guard can conduct military operations under the Department of Defense or directly for the President in accordance with 14 USC 1-3.
The United States Coast Guard has a broad and important role in maritime homeland security, maritime law enforcement (MLE), search and rescue (SAR), marine environmental protection (MEP), and the maintenance of river, intracoastal and offshore aids to navigation (ATON). Founded by Alexander Hamilton as the Revenue Cutter Service on August 4, 1790, it lays claim to being the United States' oldest continuous seagoing service. As of October 2006, the Coast Guard had approximately 42,000 men and women on active duty, 8,100 reservists, 7,000 full time civilian employees and 30,000 Auxiliarists.
While most military services are either at war or training for war, the Coast Guard is deployed every day. With a decentralized organization and much responsibility placed on even the most junior personnel, the Coast Guard is frequently lauded for its quick responsiveness and adaptability in a broad range of emergencies. In a 2005 article in TIME Magazine following Hurricane Katrina, the author wrote, "the Coast Guard's most valuable contribution to [a military effort when catastrophe hits] may be as a model of flexibility, and most of all, spirit." Wil Milam, a rescue swimmer from Alaska told the magazine, "In the Navy, it was all about the mission. Practicing for war, training for war. In the Coast Guard, it was, take care of our people and the mission will take care of itself."
The Coast Guard's motto is Semper Paratus, meaning "Always Ready". The service has participated in every U.S. conflict from 1790 through today, including landing US troops on D-Day and on the Pacific Islands in World War II, in extensive patrols and shore bombardment during the Vietnam War, and multiple roles in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Maritime interception operations, coastal security, transportation security, and law enforcement detachments are its major roles in Iraq.
The formal name for a member of the Coast Guard is "Coast Guardsman", irrespective of gender. An informal name is "Coastie." "Team Coast Guard" refers to the four components of the Coast Guard as a whole: Active Duty, Reserve, Auxiliary and Coast Guard civilian employees.
Search and RescueEdit
Search and Rescue (SAR) is one of the Coast Guard's oldest missions. The National Search and Rescue Plan designates the United States Coast Guard as the federal agency responsible for maritime SAR operations, and the United States Air Force as the federal agency responsible for inland SAR. Both agencies maintain rescue coordination centers to coordinate this effort, and have responsibility for both military and civilian search and rescue.
The U.S. Coast Guard utilizes the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System (SAROPS) to most accurately model leeway divergence for many search and rescue objects as well as optimize planned search areas.
National Response CenterEdit
- Operated by the USCG, the National Response Center (NRC) is the sole U.S. Government point of contact for reporting environmental spills, contamination, and pollution
The primary function of the National Response Center (NRC) is to serve as the sole national point of contact for reporting all oil, chemical, radiological, biological, and etiological discharges into the environment anywhere in the United States and its territories. In addition to gathering and distributing spill data for Federal On-Scene Coordinators and serving as the communications and operations center for the National Response Team, the NRC maintains agreements with a variety of federal entities to make additional notifications regarding incidents meeting established trigger criteria. The NRC also takes Terrorist/Suspicious Activity Reports and Maritime Security Breach Reports. Details on the NRC organization and specific responsibilities can be found in the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan.
Authority as an armed serviceEdit
The five uniformed services that make up the Armed Forces are defined in 10 U.S.C. § 101(a)(4): “ The term "armed forces" means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. ”
The Coast Guard is further defined by 14 U.S.C. § 1: “ The Coast Guard as established January 28, 1915, shall be a military service and a branch of the armed forces of the United States at all times. The Coast Guard shall be a service in the Department of Homeland Security, except when operating as a service in the Navy. ”
Coast Guard organization and operation is as set forth in Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
On February 25, 2003, the Coast Guard was placed under the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard reports directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security. However, under 14 U.S.C. § 3 as amended by section 211 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2006, upon the declaration of war and when Congress so directs in the declaration, or when the President directs, the Coast Guard operates under the Department of Defense as a service in the Department of the Navy. 14 U.S.C. § 2 authorizes the Coast Guard to enforce federal law, which is further defined in 14 U.S.C. § 89. Further, the Coast Guard is exempt from and not subject to the restrictions of the Posse Comitatus Act which restrict the law enforcement activities of the other four military services within United States territory.
On October 17, 2007, the Coast Guard joined with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps to adopt a new maritime strategy called A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower that raised the notion of prevention of war to the same philosophical level as the conduct of war. This new strategy charted a course for the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps to work collectively with each other and international partners to prevent regional crises, manmade or natural, from occurring or reacting quickly should one occur to avoid negative impacts to the United States. During the launch of the new U.S. maritime strategy at the International Seapower Symposium at the U.S. Naval War College, 2007, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen said the new maritime strategy reinforced the time-honored missions the service carried out in this U.S. since 1790. "It reinforces the Coast Guard maritime strategy of safety, security and stewardship, and it reflects not only the global reach of our maritime services but the need to integrate and synchronize and act with our coalition and international partners to not only win wars ... but to prevent wars," Allen said.
Authority as a law enforcement agencyEdit
14 U.S.C. § 89 is the principal source of Coast Guard enforcement authority.
14 U.S.C. § 143 and 19 U.S.C. § 1401 empower US Coast Guard Active and Reserve commissioned officers, chief petty officers and petty officers as federal customs officers. This places them under 19 U.S.C. § 1589a, which grants customs officers general law enforcement authority, including the authority to:
(1) carry a firearm;
(2) execute and serve any order, warrant, subpoena, summons, or other process issued under the authority of the United States;
(3) make an arrest without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in the officer's presence or for a felony, cognizable under the laws of the United States committed outside the officer's presence if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony; and
(4) perform any other law enforcement duty that the Secretary of Homeland Security may designate.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office Report to the House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary on its 2006 Survey of Federal Civilian Law Enforcement Functions and Authorities identified the U.S. Coast Guard as one of 104 federal components employed which employed law enforcement officers. The Report also included a summary table of the authorities of the U.S. Coast Guard's 192 special agents and 3,780 maritime law enforcement boarding officers.
Coast Guardsmen have the legal authority to carry their service-issued firearms on and off base, thus giving them greater flexibility when being called to service. This is not always done in practice, however; at many Coast Guard stations, commanders prefer to have all service-issued weapons in armories. Still, one court has held that Coast Guard boarding officers are qualified law enforcement officers authorized to carry personal firearms off-duty for self-defense.
As members of a military service, Coast Guardsmen on active and reserve service are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and receive the same pay and allowances as members of the same pay grades in the other uniformed services.
The roots of the Coast Guard lie in the United States Revenue Cutter Service established by Alexander Hamilton under the Department of the Treasury on August 4, 1790. The first USCG station was in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Until the re-establishment of the United States Navy in 1798, the Revenue Cutter Service was the only naval force of the early U.S. It was established to collect taxes from a brand new nation of patriot smugglers. When the officers were out at sea, they were told to crack down on piracy; while they were at it, they might as well rescue anyone in distress.
"First Fleet" is a term occasionally used as an informal reference to the US Coast Guard, although as far as one can detect the United States has never in fact officially used this designation with reference either to the Coast Guard or any element of the US Navy. The informal appellation honors the fact that between 1790 and 1798, there was no United States Navy and the cutters which were the predecessor of the US Coast Guard were the only warships protecting the coast, trade, and maritime interests of the new republic.
The modern Coast Guard can be said to date to 1915, when the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the United States Life-Saving Service and Congress formalized the existence of the new organization. In 1939, the U.S. Lighthouse Service was brought under its purview. In 1942, the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation was transferred to the Coast Guard. In 1967, the Coast Guard moved from the Department of the Treasury to the newly formed Department of Transportation, an arrangement that lasted until it was placed under the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 as part of legislation designed to more efficiently protect American interests following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
In times of war, the Coast Guard or individual components of it can operate as a service of the Department of the Navy. This arrangement has a broad historical basis, as the Guard has been involved in wars as diverse as the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the American Civil War, in which the cutter Harriet Lane fired the first naval shots attempting to relieve besieged Fort Sumter. The last time the Coast Guard operated as a whole under the Navy was in World War II. More often, military and combat units within the Coast Guard will operate under Navy operational control while other Coast Guard units will remain under the Department of Homeland Security.
The headquarters of the Coast Guard is at 2100 Second Street, SW, in Washington, D.C. In 2005, the Coast Guard announced tentative plans to relocate to the grounds of the former St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington. That project is currently on hold because of environmental, historical, and congressional concerns. As of July 2006, there are several possible locations being considered, including the current headquarters location.
Commissioned Officer Corps Edit
There are many routes by which individuals can become commissioned officers in the US Coast Guard. The most common are:
United States Coast Guard Academy Edit
The United States Coast Guard Academy is located on the Thames River in New London, Connecticut. It is the only military academy to which no Congressional or presidential appointments are made. All cadets enter by open competition utilizing SAT scores, high school grades, extracurricular activities, and other criteria. About 225 cadets graduate each year and are commissioned as Ensigns in the Coast Guard. Graduates are obligated to serve five years on active duty. Most graduates (about 70%) are assigned to duty aboard a Coast Guard cutter after graduation, either as Deck Watch Officers (DWOs) or as Engineer Officers in Training (EOITs). Smaller numbers are assigned directly to flight training (about 10% of the class) at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida or to shore duty at Coast Guard Sectors, Districts, or Area headquarters units.
Officer Candidate SchoolEdit
In addition to the Academy, prospective officers may enter the Coast Guard through the Officer Candidate School (OCS) at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. OCS is a rigorous 17-week course of instruction which prepares candidates to serve effectively as officers in the United States Coast Guard. In addition to indoctrinating students into a military life-style, OCS also provides a wide range of highly technical information necessary for performing the duties of a Coast Guard officer.
Graduates of the program typically receive a commission in the Coast Guard at the rank of Ensign, but some with advanced graduate degrees can enter as Lieutenant (junior grade) or Lieutenant. Graduating OCS officers entering Active Duty are required to serve a minimum of three years, while graduating Reserve officers are required to serve four years. Graduates may be assigned to a cutter, flight training, to a staff job, or to an operations ashore billet. However, first assignments are based on the needs of the Coast Guard. Personal desires and performance at OCS are considered. All graduates must be available for worldwide assignment.
In addition to United States citizens, foreign cadets and candidates also attend Coast Guard officer training. OCS represents the source of the majority of commissions in the Coast Guard, and is the primary channel through which enlisted ranks can ascend to the officer corps.
Direct Commission Officer ProgramEdit
The Coast Guard's Direct Commission Officer course is administered by Officer Candidate School. Depending on the specific program and background of the individual, the course is three, four or five weeks long. The first week of the five-week course is an indoctrination week. The DCO program is designed to commission officers with highly specialized professional training or certain kinds of previous military experience. For example, lawyers entering as JAGs, doctors, engineers, intelligence officers, military aviators (pilots) who are current or former officers in other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and certain other individuals can earn Coast Guard commissions through the DCO program (Chaplains are provided to the Coast Guard by the US Navy).
College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (CSPI)Edit
The College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (CSPI) is a scholarship program for college sophomores and juniors. This program provides students with valuable leadership, management, law enforcement, navigation and marine science skills and training. It also provides full payment of school tuition, fees, textbooks, a salary, medical insurance and other benefits during a student's junior and senior year of college. The CSPI program guarantees training at Officer Candidate School (OCS) upon successful completion of all program requirements. Each student is expected to complete his/her degree and all Coast Guard training requirements. Following the completion of OCS and commission as a Coast Guard officer, each student will be required to serve on active duty (full time) as an officer for 3 years.
Benefits: Full tuition, books and fees paid for two years, monthly salary of approximately $2,200, medical and life insurance, 30 days paid vacation per year, leadership training.
Unlike the other armed services, the Coast Guard does not sponsor an ROTC program. It does, however, sponsor one Junior ROTC ("JROTC") program at the MAST Academy. However, Coast Guard officers and Senior NCO's are allowed to teach Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps classes.
Chief Warrant OfficersEdit
Highly qualified enlisted personnel from E-6 through E-9, and with a minimum of eight years of experience, can compete each year for appointment as a Chief Warrant Officer (or CWO). Successful candidates are chosen by a board and then commissioned as Chief Warrant Officers (CWO-2) in one of sixteen specialties. Over time Chief Warrant Officers may be promoted to CWO-3 and CWO-4. The ranks of Warrant Officer (WO-1) and CWO-5 are not currently used in the Coast Guard. Chief Warrant Officers may also compete for the Chief Warrant Officer to Lieutenant program. If selected, the officer will be promoted to Lieutenant (O-3E). The "E" designates over four years active duty service as a Warrant Officer or Enlisted member and entitles the member to a higher rate of pay than other lieutenants.
Coast Guard Boot CampEdit
Newly enlisted personnel are sent to 8 weeks of Basic Training at the Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in Cape May, New Jersey. New recruits arrive at the Training Center Reception Station for three days of initial processing and then are introduced to their training Company Commander, who is usually a senior Petty Officer who has had special training in the handling of new recruits. The balance of the eight week boot camp is spent in learning teamwork and developing physical skills. An introduction of how the Coast Guard operates with special emphasis on the Coast Guard's Core Values is an important part of the training.
The current nine Recruit Training Objectives are:
- Military skills
- Vocational skills and academics
- Military bearing
- Physical fitness and wellness
- Water survival and swim qualifications
- Esprit de corps
- Core values (Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty)
Following graduation, most members are sent to their first unit while they await orders to attend advanced training in Class "A" Schools. At "A" schools, Coast Guard enlisted personnel are trained in their chosen rating, the Coast Guard's (and Navy's) version of the Army's and Marine Corps's MOS and Air Force's AFSC. Members who earned high ASVAB scores or who were otherwise guaranteed an "A" School of choice while enlisting can go directly to their "A" School upon graduation from Boot Camp.
The Coast Guard Maritime Law Enforcement AcademyEdit
The Coast Guard Maritime Law Enforcement Academy is located at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Charleston, South Carolina, following relocation and merger of the former Law Enforcement School at Yorktown, Virginia, and the former Boarding Team Member School at Petaluma, California.
The Academy presents five courses:
- Boarding officer
- Boarding team member, which is a small part of the boarding officer course
- Radiation detection course, which is a level II operator course
- Vessel inspection class for enforcing Captain of the Port orders.
Training ranges from criminal law and the use of force to boarding team member certification to the use of radiation detection equipment. Much of the training is live, using handguns with laser inserts or firing non-lethal rounds.
Petty officers follow career development paths very similar to those of US Navy petty officers.
Chief Petty OfficersEdit
Enlisted Coast Guard members who have reached the pay grade of E-7, or Chief Petty Officer, must attend the U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy at Training Center Petaluma in Petaluma, California, or an equivalent Department of Defense school, in order to be advanced to pay grade E-8. United States Air Force master sergeants, as well as international students representing their respective maritime services, are also eligible to attend the Academy. The basic themes of this school are:
- Systems thinking and lifelong learning
|Officer Grade Structure of the United States Coast Guard|
|Warrant Officer Grade Structure of the United States Coast Guard|
|Chief Warrant Officer 4||Chief Warrant Officer 3||Chief Warrant Officer 2|
| Non Commissioned Officer Grade Structure of the United States Coast Guard|
Crossed anchors in the graphics indicate a rating of Boatswain's Mate
|Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
|Area CMC/MCPOCG (Reserve Forces)||Command Master Chief Petty Officer
|Master Chief Petty Officer
|Senior Chief Petty Officer
|Chief Petty Officer
|Petty Officer First Class
|Petty Officer Second Class
|Petty Officer Third Class
| 40px|| 40px|| 40px|| 40px|| 40px|| 40px|| 40px|| 40px|| 40px|
|Enlisted Grade Structure of the United States Coast Guard|
The equipment of the USCG consists of thousands of vehicles (boats, cutters, helicopters, fixed-winged aircraft, automobiles), communication systems (radio equipment, radio networks, radar, data networks), weapons, infrastructure such as United States Coast Guard Air Stations and local Small Boat Stations, each in a large variety.
The Coast Guard, like the other armed services of the United States, has a set of core values which serve as basic ethical guidelines for all Coast Guard Active Duty, Reservists, Auxiliarists and Civilians. The Coast Guard Core Values are:
- Honor: Integrity is our standard. We demonstrate uncompromising ethical conduct and moral behavior in all of our personal actions. We are loyal and accountable to the public trust.
- Respect: We value our diverse workforce. We treat each other with fairness, dignity and compassion. We encourage individual opportunity and growth. We encourage creativity through empowerment. We work as a team.
- Devotion to Duty: We are professionals, military and civilian, who seek responsibility, accept accountability, and are committed to the successful achievement of our organizational goals. We exist to serve. We serve with pride.
Coast Guard EnsignEdit
The Coast Guard Ensign (flag) was first flown by the Revenue Cutter Service in 1799 to distinguish revenue cutters from merchant ships. The order stated the Ensign would be "16 perpendicular stripes, alternate red and white, the union of the ensign to be the arms of the United States in a dark blue on a white field." (There were 16 states in the United States at the time).
The purpose of the flag is to allow ship captains to easily recognize those vessels having legal authority to stop and board them. This flag is flown only as a symbol of law enforcement authority and is never carried as a parade standard. See 
Coast Guard StandardEdit
The Coast Guard Standard is used in parades and carries the battle honors of the U.S. Coast Guard. It was derived from the jack of the Coast Guard ensign which used to fly from the stern of revenue cutters. The emblem is a blue eagle from the coat of arms of the United States on a white field. Above the eagle are the words "UNITED STATES COAST GUARD;" below the eagle is the motto, "SEMPER PARATUS" and the inscription "1790."
The Racing Stripe was designed in 1964 by the industrial design office of Raymond Loewy Associates to give the Coast Guard a distinctive, modern image and was first used in 1967. The symbol is a narrow blue bar, a narrow white stripe between, and a broad red bar with the Coast Guard shield centered. The stripes are canted at a 64 degree angle, coincidentally the year the Racing Stripe was designed.  Auxiliary vessels maintained by the Coast Guard also carry the Racing Stripe in inverted colors.
The Stripe has been adopted for the use of other coast guards, such as the Canadian Coast Guard, the Italian Guardia Costiera, the French Maritime Gendarmerie, the Indian Coast Guard, the German Federal Coast Guard, the Philippine Coast Guard, the Netherlands Coastguard and the Australian Customs Service.
The Coast Guard carries out five basic roles, which are further subdivided into eleven statutory missions. The five roles are:
- Maritime safety (including search and rescue)
- Maritime mobility
- maritime security
- National defense
- Protection of natural resources
The eleven statutory missions, found in section 888 of the Homeland Security Act are:
- Ports, Waterways and Coastal Security (PWCS)
- Counter Drug Law Enforcement
- Migrant Interdiction
- Other Law Enforcement (foreign fisheries)
- Living Marine Resources (domestic fisheries)
- Marine (maritime) Safety
- Marine (maritime) Environmental Protection
- Ice Operations
- Aids to Navigation (ATON)
- Defense Readiness
- Marine (maritime) Environmental Response
The OMEGA navigation system and the LORAN-C transmitters outside the USA were also run by the United States Coast Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard Omega Stations at Lamoure, North Dakota and Kāne'ohe, Hawai'i (Oahu) were both formally decommissioned and shut down on September 30, 1997.
Prior to 1972, U.S. Coast Guard personnel wore the same uniforms as the U.S. Navy uniform with distinctive Coast Guard insignia, primarily cap devices for officers and chief petty officers, incorporation of the Coast Guard shield in lieu of line or staff corps insignia for officers, and differentiated uniform buttons on dress uniforms.
In 1972, the current Coast Guard dress blue uniform was introduced for wear by both officers and enlisted personnel; the transition was completed during 1974. Relatively similar in appearance to the old-style U.S. Air Force uniforms, the uniform consists of a blue four-pocket single breasted jacket and trousers in a slightly darker shade. A light-blue button-up shirt with a pointed collar, two front button-flap pockets, "enhanced" shoulder boards for officers, and pin-on collar insignia for Chief Petty Officers and enlisted personnel is worn when in shirt-sleeve order (known as "Tropical Blue Long"). It is similar to the World War II-era uniforms worn by Coast Guard Surfmen. Officer rank insignia parallels that of the U.S. Navy but with the gold Navy "line" star being replaced with the gold Coast Guard Shield and with the Navy blue background color replaced by Coast Guard blue. Enlisted rank insignia is also similar to the Navy with the Coast Guard shield replacing the eagle on collar and cap devices. Group Rate marks (stripes) for junior enlisted members (E-3 and below) also follow U. S. Navy convention with white for seaman, red for fireman, and green for airman. In a departure from the U. S. Navy conventions, all Petty Officers E-6 and below wear red chevrons and all Chief Petty Officers wear gold. Unlike the US Navy, officers and CPO's do not wear khaki; all personnel wear the same color uniform. See USCG Uniform Regulations  for current regulations.
Coast Guard officers also have a white dress uniform, nearly identical to the "choker white" uniform worn by naval officers, typically used for formal parade and change-of-command ceremonies. Chief Petty Officers, Petty Officers, and Non-Rates (E-3 and below) wear the standard Service Dress Blue uniform for all such ceremonies, except with a white shirt and white gloves and this uniform is referred to as "Service Dress Alpha" A white belt may be worn for honor guards. A mess dress uniform is worn by members for formal (black tie) evening ceremonies.
The current working uniform of a majority of Coast Guard members is the Operational Dress Uniform. The ODU is similar to the Battle Dress Uniform of other armed services, both in function and style. However, the ODU is in a solid dark blue with no camouflage patterns and does not have lower pockets on the blouse. The ODU is worn with steel-toed boots in most circumstances, but low-cut black or brown boat shoes may be prescribed for certain situations. The former dark blue working uniform has been withdrawn from use by the Coast Guard but may be worn by Auxiliarists until no longer serviceable. In the fall of 2008 a second generation Operational Dress Uniform was introduced. It resembles the current Battle Dress blouse, which is worn on the outside, rather than tucked in. In addition it has a black Coast Guard insignia embroidered on the left shirt pocket. This next generation ODU is an optional uniform item until 31 Dec 2012.
Coast Guard members serving in expeditionary combat units such as Port Security Units, Law Enforcement Detachments, and others, wear working operational uniforms that resemble Battle Dress uniforms, complete with "woodland" or "desert" camouflage colors. These units typically serve under, or with, the other armed services in combat theaters, necessitating similar uniforms.
Enlisted Coast Guardsmen wear the combination covers for full dress, a garrison cover for Class "B," wear, and a baseball-style cover either embroidered with "U.S. Coast Guard" in gold block lettering or the name of their cutter, unit or station in gold, for the ODU uniform. Male and female company commanders (the Coast Guard equivalent of Marine Corps drill instructors) at Training Center Cape May wear the traditional "Smokey Bear" campaign hat.
The Coast Guard faces several issues in the near future.
Lack of coverage affects many areas with high maritime traffic. For example, local officials in Scituate, Massachusetts, have complained that there is no permanent Coast Guard station, and the presence of the Coast Guard in winter is vital. One reason for this lack of coverage is the relatively high cost of building storm-proof buildings on coastal property; the Cape Hatteras station was abandoned in 2005 after winter storms wiped out the 12 ft sand dune serving as its protection from the ocean. Faced with these issues the Coast Guard has contracted with General Dynamics C4 System to provide a complete replacement of their 1970s era radio equipment. Rescue 21 is the United States Coast Guard's advanced command, control and communications system. Created to improve the ability to assist mariners in distress and save lives and property at sea, the system is currently being installed in stages across the United States. The nation's existing maritime search and rescue (SAR) communications system has been in operation since the early 1970s. Difficult to maintain, increasingly unreliable and prone to coverage gaps, this antiquated system no longer meets the safety needs of America's growing marine traffic. In addition, it is incapable of supporting the Coast Guard's new mission requirements for homeland security, which require close cooperation with Department of Defense agencies as well as federal, state and local law enforcement authorities. Modernizing this system enhances the safety and protection of America's waterways.
Lack of strength to meet its assigned missions is being met by a legislated increase in authorized strength from 39,000 to 45,000. In addition, the volunteer Auxiliary acts as an air and surface resource in support of a variety of missions conducted by Coast Guard units.
Aging vessels are another problem, with the Coast Guard still operating some of the oldest naval vessels in the world. In 2005, the Coast Guard terminated contracts to upgrade the 110-foot (33.5 m) Island Class Cutters to 123-foot (37.5 m) cutters because of warping and distortion of the hulls. In late 2006, Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard, decommissioned all eight 123 ft cutters due to dangerous conditions created by the lengthening of the hull- to include compromised watertight integrity. The Coast Guard has, as a result of the failed 110 ft conversion, revised production schedules for the Fast Response Cutter (FRC). Of the navies and coast guards of the world's 40 largest navies, the U.S. Coast Guard has the 38th oldest surface fleet.
Live fire exercises by Coast Guard boat and cutter crews in the U.S. waters of the Great Lakes attracted attention in the U.S. and Canada. The Coast Guard had proposed the establishment of 34 locations around the Great Lakes where live fire training using vessel-mounted machine guns were to be conducted periodically throughout the year. The Coast Guard said that these exercises are a critical part of proper crew training in support of the service's multiple missions on the Great Lakes, including law enforcement and anti-terrorism. Those that raised concerns about the firing exercises commented about safety concerns and that the impact on commercial shipping, tourism, recreational boating and the environment may be greater than what the Coast Guard had stated. The Coast Guard took public comment and conducted a series of nine public meetings on this issue. After receiving more than 1,000 comments, mostly opposing the Coast Guard's plan, the Coast Guard announced that they were withdrawing their proposal for target practice on the Great Lakes, although a revised proposal may be made in the future.
Deployable Operations Group (DOG)Edit
The Deployable Operations Group is a recently formed Coast Guard command. The DOG brings numerous existing deployable law enforcement, tactical and response units under a single command headed by a rear admiral. The planning for such a unit began after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and culminated with its formation on July 20th, 2007. The unit will contain several hundred highly trained Coast Guardsmen. Its missions will include maritime law enforcement, anti-terrorism, port security, and pollution response. Full operational capability is planned by summer 2008.
Coast Guard ReserveEdit
The United States Coast Guard Reserve is the military reserve force of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard Reserve was founded on February 19, 1941. Coast Guard reservists normally drill two days a month and an additional 12 days of Active Duty for Training each year. Coast Guard reservists possess the same training and qualifications as their active duty counterparts, and as such, can be found augmenting active duty Coast Guard units every day.
During the Vietnam War and shortly thereafter, the Coast Guard considered abandoning the Reserve program, but the force was instead reoriented into force augmentation, where its principal focus was not just reserve operations, but to add to the readiness and mission execution of every day active duty personnel.
Since September 11, 2001, over 8,500 Reservists have been activated and served on tours of active duty. Coast Guard Port Security Units are entirely staffed with Reservists, except for five to seven active duty personnel. Additionally, most of the staffing the Coast Guard provides to Naval Coastal Warfare units are reservists.
The Reserve is managed by the Director of Reserve and Training, RDML Daniel R. May.
Coast Guard AuxiliaryEdit
In 1997, however, new legislation authorized the Auxiliary to participate in any and all Coast Guard missions except military combat and law enforcement. 33 CFR 5.31 states that: Members of the Auxiliary, when assigned to specific duties shall, unless otherwise limited by the Commandant, be vested with the same power and authority, in execution of such duties, as members of the regular Coast Guard assigned to similar duties.
Auxiliarists may support the law enforcement mission of the Coast Guard but do not directly participate in it. Auxiliarists and their vessels are not allowed to carry any weapons while serving in any Auxiliary capacity; however, they may serve as scouts, alerting regular Coast Guard units. Auxiliarists use their own vessels (i.e., boats, yachts) and aircraft, in carrying out Coast Guard missions, or apply specialized skills such as Web page design or radio watchstanding to assist the Coast Guard. When appropriately trained and qualified, they may serve upon Coast Guard vessels.
Auxiliarists undergo one of several levels of background check. For most duties, including those related to recreational boating safety, a simple identity check is sufficient. For some duties in which an Auxiliarist provides direct augmentation of Coast Guard forces, such as tasks related to port security, a more in-depth background check is required. Occasionally an Auxiliarist will need to obtain a security clearance through the Coast Guard in order to have access to classified information in the course of assigned tasking.
The basic unit of the Auxiliary is the Flotilla, which has at least 10 members and may have as many as 100. Five Flotillas in a geographical area form a Division. There are several divisions in each Coast Guard District. The Auxiliary has a leadership and management structure of elected officers, including Flotilla Commanders, Division Captains, and District Commodores, Atlantic and Pacific Area Commodores, and a national Commodore. However, legally, each Auxiliarist has the same 'rank', Auxiliarist.
In 2005, the Coast Guard transitioned to a geographical Sector organization. Correspondingly, a position of 'Sector Auxiliary Coordinator' was established. The Sector Auxiliary Coordinator is responsible for service by Auxiliarists directly to a Sector, including augmentation of Coast Guard Active Duty and Reserve forces when requested. Such augmentation is also referred to as force multiplication.
Auxiliarists wear the similar uniforms as Coast Guard officers with modified officers' insignia based on their office: the stripes on uniforms are silver, and metal insignia bear a red or blue "A" in the center. Unlike their counterparts in the Civil Air Patrol, Auxiliarists come under direct orders of the Coast Guard.
Coast Guard CiviliansEdit
Civilian employees in the Coast Guard work together with military and Auxiliary personnel to save lives, enforce the law, operate ports and waterways, and protect the environment. There are over 6,000 civilian positions in over 200 different types of jobs throughout the Coast Guard and they work in over 100 locations in the United States.
Medals and honorsEdit
The highest peacetime decoration awarded within the Coast Guard is the Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal; prior to the transfer of the Coast Guard to the Department of Homeland Security, the highest peacetime decoration was the Department of Transportation Distinguished Service Medal. The highest unit award available is the Presidential Unit Citation.
In wartime, members of the Coast Guard are eligible to receive the U.S. Navy version of the Medal of Honor. A Coast Guard Medal of Honor is authorized but has not yet been developed or issued.
In May 2006, at the Change of Command ceremony when Admiral Thad Allen took over as Commandant, President George W. Bush awarded the entire Coast Guard, including the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation with hurricane device, for its efforts during and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Ancient Order of the PterodactylEdit
Those who have piloted or flown in U.S. Coast Guard aircraft under official flight orders may join the Ancient Order of the Pterodactyl ("Flying Since the World was Flat").
USCGA Alumni AssociationEdit
The United States Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association is devoted to providing service to and promoting fellowship among all U.S. Coast Guard Academy alumni and members of the Association. Academy graduates and those who have attended the Academy are eligible for Regular membership; all others interested in the Academy and its Corps of Cadets are eligible for Associate membership. (Website)
Coast Guard CW Operators AssociationEdit
The Coast Guard CW Operators Association (CGCWOA) is a membership organization comprised primarily of former members of the United States Coast Guard who held the enlisted rating of Radioman (RM) or Telecommunications Specialist (TC), and who employed International Morse Code (CW) in their routine communications duties on Coast Guard cutters and at shore stations. (Website)
USCG Chief Petty Officers AssociationEdit
Members of this organization unite to assist members and dependents in need, assist with Coast Guard recruiting efforts, support the aims and goals of the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Academy, keep informed on Coast Guard matters, and assemble for social amenities; and include Chief, Senior Chief, and Master Chief Petty Officers, active, reserve and retired. Membership is also open to all Chief Warrant Officers and Officers who have served as a Chief Petty Officer. (Website)
The Coast Guard maintains a library of publications for public use as well as publications for Coast Guard and Auxiliary use.
Coast Guard, COMDTPUB P5720.2, is the regular publication for Coast Guardsmen.
Notable Coast Guardsmen and others associated with the USCGEdit
- Source: U.S. Coast Guard
- Derroll Adams, folk musician
- Nick Adams, actor
- Jenny Bindon, goalkeeper for the New Zealand Women's Football Team at the 2007 Women's World Cup and 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
- Humphrey Bogart, actor, WWII Coast Guard Auxiliarist
- Beau Bridges, actor, Coast Guard Reservist 
- Lloyd Bridges, actor, Coast Guard Auxiliarist
- Frank Brimsek, NHL goalkeeper 
- Nathan Bruckenthal, the only Coast Guardsman killed in action during OIF, and the first KIA since the Vietnam War
- Daniel C. Burbank, second Coast Guard astronaut, Captain, USCG
- Sid Caesar, comedian
- Lou Carnesecca, basketball coach, St. John's University
- Howard Coble, U.S. Congressman, North Carolina
- Chris Cooper, actor
- Richard Cromwell, actor
- Walter Cronkite, newscaster, Coast Guard Auxiliarist
- William D. Delahunt, U.S. Congressman, Massachusetts
- Jack Dempsey, professional boxer
- Buddy Ebsen (1908–2003), actor, comedian, dancer
- Blake Edwards, writer, director, producer
- Edwin D. Eshleman (1920-1985), former U.S. Congressman, Pennsylvania
- Arthur Fiedler, conductor
- Charles Gibson, newscaster
- Arthur Godfrey, entertainer
- Otto Graham, professional football player and coach
- Alex Haley, author of Roots and first Coast Guard Chief Journalist (JOC)
- Alan Hale, Jr., actor
- William Hopper, actor
- Tab Hunter, actor
- Harvey E. Johnson, Jr., retired Coast Guard Vice Admiral, Deputy Director FEMA
- Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, athlete, actor
- Steve Knight, Vocalist for Flipsyde
- Jack Kramer, tennis professional
- Jacob Lawrence, artist
- Victor Mature, actor
- Bruce E. Melnick, first Coast Guard astronaut, Commander, USCG (ret)
- Douglas Munro, the only Coast Guardsman to be awarded the Medal of Honor
- Frank Murkowski, former governor and former U.S. Senator, Alaska
- Sam Nunn, former U.S. Senator, Georgia
- Arnold Palmer, professional golfer
- Ed Parker, martial artist
- George S. Patton, Jr., U.S. Army General , awarded Coast Guard Silver Lifesaving Medal 
- Claiborne Pell, former U.S. Senator, Rhode Island
- Popeye, Cartoon character, had tattoos and uniforms signifying he was in the USCG. "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" shows him under a USCG sign.
- Jon Douglas Rainey, co-host of the Discovery Channel reality series It Takes a Thief
- Cesar Romero, actor
- Charles S. Shapiro, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela
- Sergei I. Sikorsky, son of Igor Sikorsky, former chairman of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. 
- Dorothy C. Stratton first director of the SPARS
- Gene Taylor, U.S. Congressman, Mississippi
- Mel Torme, jazz musician
- Ted Turner, businessman
- Rudy Vallee, entertainer
- Tom Waits, musician and actor
- Thornton Wilder, writer
- Sloan Wilson, writer
- Kai Winding, Musician
- Gig Young, actor
- The Coast Guard has been featured in several television series, such as Baywatch, Miami Vice, CSI: Miami, and Deadliest Catch; and in film.
- A comedy, Onionhead, portrayed Andy Griffith as a Coast Guard recruit.
- The 2000 film The Perfect Storm depicted the rescue operations of the USCGC Tamaroa (WMEC-166) as one of its subplots.
- Special Counter-Drug helicopter units known as Helicopter Interdictions Squadrons (HITRON) are seen in action on Bad Boys II.
- In the 2005 family comedy Yours, Mine, and Ours, Dennis Quaid plays a fictional U.S. Coast Guard Academy superintendent who marries a character played by Rene Russo and together have 18 children.
- The 2006 film The Guardian, starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher, was based on the training and operation of Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers.
- A Coast Guard cutter and its commander and crew figured prominently in Tom Clancy's book Clear and Present Danger.
- The 2008 fourth season of the television series Lost erroneously depicted air crash survivors being transported to Hawaii in a Coast Guard HC-130 aircraft. However, since the survivors had landed on the Indonesian island of Sumba (in the Indian Ocean, thousands of miles from any Coast Guard district), arrangements for their repatriation would have been the business of the US State Department.
Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard
2100 Second Street, SW
Phone: (202) 372-4000
- U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS)
- U.S. Coast Guard Intelligence
- Marine Environmental Protection
- National Data Buoy Center
- Special Missions Training Center
- U.S. Coast Guard Legal Division
- U.S. Coast Guard Air Stations
- Equipment of the United States Coast Guard
- U.S. Coast Guard Cutters (List of United States Coast Guard cutters)
- Coast Guard Day
- United States Maritime Administration
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement
- United States Merchant Marine
- Coast Guardsman's Manual / George Krietemeyer - Naval Institute Press, 2000 - ISBN 1557504687
- U.S. Coast Guard Website
- Reports on the Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General
- 'A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower'
- U.S. Coast Guard Videos
- Coast Guard Personnel Locator
- How to join the U.S. Coast Guard
- U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Website
- Coast Guard Channel
- Coast Guard News
- Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports regarding the U.S. Coast Guard
- National Technical Information Service
- USCG News
- U S Coast Guard Networked - U S Coast Guard Networked Group on LinkedIn.
- America's Waterway Watch
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