December 13, 2017

The Function And Purpose Of The United States Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard is unusual in that although it is considered one of the five branches of the armed services it does not trace its chain of command through the Department of Defense. Instead it is a part of the Department of Homeland Security. As such it is responsible for protecting our shores and inland waterways.

Us United States Coast Guard

This includes more than just responding to military or terrorist threats. It was most recently in the national news as the primary force responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Viewers saw nightly reports of Coast Guard ships skimming oil, while others patrolled slick waters to keep fishermen away from the toxic spread. Coast Guard Commanders gave nightly briefings to the nation on containment plans. They fought the battle to save America’s fisheries and estuaries until the well was capped and they are still there today dealing with the aftermath.

Oil is not the only toxic invasion of America’s shores, however. This maritime organization is in the forefront of the battle to stop illegal drugs from entering this country by sea. In 2008 alone it confiscated one-hundred-and-eighty-five tons of cocaine from smugglers plying our southern waters.

Far to the north, the coast guard is responsible for smashing open a waterway through thick ice so commercial vessels can haul supplies and crude oil to and from our frozen off shore oil fields. These amazing, super-reinforced ice-breakers have been featured on the History channel.

Their northern exploits aren’t the only ones to be featured on reality television however. This is a search and rescue organization as well, and its advanced ships and aircraft contain advanced equipment to enable them to find distressed vessels and save sailors in even the roughest seas. These rescue craft have also been the subject of History and Discovery Channel coverage.

Although they operate mainly in America’s own waters, this military branch does occasionally venture out on overseas missions. They were responsible for patrolling and defending Iraq’s offshore oil wells until an Iraqi force could be trained to do the same job. They have also gone to other parts of the world on humanitarian missions. They delivered the first U. S. Aid to the Republic to the Republic of Georgia after the South Ossetia war in 2008.

More Mundane tasks such as inspecting merchant marine ships and port facilities for safety violations don’t get much coverage. These activities may seem unexciting but they are they are important nonetheless. Safety and compliance checks safe lives as surely as dramatic rescue operation.

Part of that checking requires the boarding of merchant ships either outbound or inbound with cargo. This becomes an interesting task if the vessel in question doesn’t want to be boarded. They turn back thousands of illegal immigrants each year and confiscates tons of undeclared cargo.

Many of these boardings involve illegal fishing operations. The Coast Guard is also charged with protecting this country’s fisheries. As a protector of fisheries, the they are also interested in the maritime environment. The Gulf oil spill wasn’t the only environmental disaster that it has dealt with. Every year they investigate and help overcome thousands of pollution incidents.

The Coast Guard doesn’t just operate in the oceans. Wherever America conducts maritime business, they are there to protect it. They tend buoys and signal lights on the Great Lakes as well as conducting regular patrols of those waters.

Whether they are responding to environmental disasters, keeping drugs off of America’s streets, or breaking through ice to open northern waterways, The United States Coast Guard is an important part of America’s security. They are capable of humanitarian, military, and rescue missions as well as mundane regulatory duties. This organization occupies a unique position as defenders of America’s shores against all threats whether they are military, criminal, or natural.

Additional resource links: http://www.nvmc.uscg.gov/NVMC/default.aspx