United States Coast Guard

Emblem of the United States Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the country's seven uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the U.S. military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission (with jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters) and a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its mission set. It operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, and can be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Navy by the U.S. President at any time, or by the U.S. Congress during times of war. This has happened twice, in 1917, during World War I, and in 1941, during World War II.

Created by Congress on 4 August 1790 at the request of Alexander Hamilton as the Revenue Marine, it is the oldest continuous seagoing service of the United States. As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton headed the Revenue Marine, whose original purpose was collecting customs duties in the nation's seaports. By the 1860s, the service was known as the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the term Revenue Marine gradually fell into disuse.

The modern Coast Guard was formed by a merger of the Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life-Saving Service on 28 January 1915, under the U.S. Department of the Treasury. As one of the country's five armed services, the Coast Guard has been involved in every U.S. war from 1790 to the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.

The Coast Guard has 40,992 men and women on active duty, 7,000 reservists, 31,000 auxiliarists, and 8,577 full-time civilian employees, for a total workforce of 87,569. The Coast Guard maintains an extensive fleet of 243 coastal and ocean-going patrol ships, tenders, tugs and icebreakers called "Cutters", and 1650 smaller boats, as well as an extensive aviation division consisting of 201 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. While the U.S. Coast Guard is the smallest of the U.S. military service branches, in terms of size, the U.S. Coast Guard by itself is the world's 12th largest naval force.

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Aerial view of Washington Parade field and campus

The United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA), located in New London, Connecticut is a U.S. military academy that provides education to future officers of the United States Coast Guard. Unlike the other Service Academies, admission to the Coast Guard Academy is purely merit-based, and does not require a Congressional nomination.[1] The Academy is regularly cited as being the most difficult U.S. college-level institution to gain entrance into. Each year some 400 students are selected from an applicant pool about eight times that size for appointments to the Academy. About 280 of those 400 students accept the appointment and report to the USCGA in early July for "swab summer," a basic military training program designed to prepare them for the rigors of their Fourth Class year. Each cadet takes two semesters of classes during the school year and then spends the majority of the summer in military training. After four years of study and training, approximately 175 cadets will graduate with a B.S. degree and be commissioned as Ensigns in the United States Coast Guard, to begin serving their five years of obligatory duty. Around 30% of the Corps of Cadets is female.

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Did you know...?

  • ... that the motto and slogan of the Coast Guard is Semper Paratus, or always ready?
  • ...that the Coast Guard has a higher percentage of pilots than the US Air Force?

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Admiral Thad William Allen (born January 16, 1949) served as the twenty-third Commandant of the United States Coast Guard. Allen is most well known for his widely-praised performance directing the federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Coast region from September 2005 to January 2006.

Allen served as the Coast Guard's chief of staff from May 2002 until May 2006. As chief of staff, Allen was third in the Coast Guard's command structure, and was commanding officer of Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Allen directed the Coast Guard's East Coast response efforts to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 while serving as Atlantic Area Commander and Commander of the Maritime Defense Zone Atlantic.

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Quotes

"I think in the wake of Katrina, the Coast Guard may well have been the only entity or agency that came out of that exercise free of fault and free of blame." — Howard Coble

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