September 22, 2018

An Overview of the US Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard, although one of the seven branches of the US armed forces, is in many ways unique from all other branches. One reason for this uniqueness is the fact that the USCG has two overriding missions.

Us Coast Guard

Maritime LawFirst and foremost is the mission of maritime law enforcement with jurisdiction in both domestic waters and international. Under this mission the USCG operates search and rescue missions, marine environmental protection services, and aides to navigation, living marine resources, ice operations, maintain the rivers, intercostals, and offshore aides to navigation.

Founded in 1790 by Alexander Hamilton the Coast Guard operates as maritime military and is the oldest continuous seagoing service in the US. The main roles of this seagoing branch of the military are Maritime Safety, Maritime Security and Maritime Stewardship. And with the motto “Semper Paratus” which is Latin for “always ready” or “always prepared” they take their job very seriously.

Department of Homeland Security

The other mission is a federal regulatory agency mission under the Department of Homeland Security as enforcement against terrorism and drugs. Last year alone the USCG was responsible for the removal of nearly 185 tons of cocaine and interdicted 5000 people attempting to immigrate to the US illegally. Under the homeland security heading the USCG missions are ports, waterways, and coastal security, drug and migrant interdiction, defense readiness, and law enforcement.

The multi- mission state of the USCG is not the only thing that makes it unique however. While other branches of the military are either fighting wars or training to fight wars, the USCG is here at home and deployed every day to deal with emergencies of all types on the waters of our nation.

The USCG operates under the Department of Homeland Security during times of peace but can be transferred under the Department of the Navy during times of war.

The USCG is often lauded for its flexibility which is another difference that makes it unique to other military branches. While other branches tend to be focused on training the USCG is focused on doing the job every single day. There is no “peace time” for the coast guard, they are always in action.


The USCG was at one time the United States Revenue Cutter Service which was established by Alexander Hamilton in 1790 as the first and only naval force to collect taxes.

One interesting fact about the USCG is that when they were first established as the Revenue Cutter Service in 1798 officers who were out at sea to collect taxes from a new nation of smugglers were told that they might as well rescue anyone in distress while they were cracking down on piracy.

In 1915 the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the United States Life Saving Service and became the United States USCG.

The United States Coast Guard is one of the oldest branches of the American military and is unique in a number of ways. The USCG is unique in that it emphasizes saving life and the environment while many of the other branches concentrate on war.

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  1. Edie G. says:

    Isn’t the Coast Guard a part of the Navy, officially?


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