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Coast Guard History

Coast Guard Gifts Home | Coast Guard History | Military News | Marine Corps Gifts | Navy Gifts | Army Gifts | Air Force Gifts | Military Books | Military Leadership | Contact Us | Site Map

United States Coast Guard History

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a military branch of the United States involved in maritime law, mariner assistance and search and rescue, among other duties of any coast guard. One of the seven uniformed services of the United States, 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.

 

It has a broad and important role in homeland security, law enforcement, search and rescue, marine environmental pollution response and the maintenance of river, intracoastal and offshore aids to navigation (ATON). It also lays claim to being the United States' oldest continuous seagoing service. The United States Coast Guard has about 40,150 men and women on active duty.

 

The Coast Guard's motto is Semper Paratus, meaning "Always Ready".

 

The Coast Guard began as the Revenue Cutter Service which was founded on August 4, 1790 as part of the Department of the Treasury. An act of the U.S. Congress created the Coast Guard in 1915, with the merger of the Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Lifesaving Service. The United States Lighthouse Service was merged into the Coast Guard in 1939. The legal basis for the Coast Guard is Title 14 of the United States Code, which states: "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." Upon the declaration of war or when the President directs, the Coast Guard operates under the authority of the Department of the Navy. The Coast Guard later moved to the Department of Transportation in 1967, and on February 25, 2003 it became part of the Department of Homeland Security.

 

Organization

 

The headquarters of the Coast Guard is on 2100 Second Street, SW, in Washington, DC. In 2005, the Coast Guard announced plans to relocate to the grounds of the former St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington.

 

Senior officers

Admirals

The Commandant of the Coast Guard is the Coast Guard's senior officer, who, by law, holds the rank of Admiral. The Commandant is selected for a 4-year term, which may be renewed for additional 4-year periods. The current incumbent is Admiral Thomas H. Collins, who assumed command on May 30, 2002. On January 20, 2006, President Bush announced he intends to nominate Vice Admiral Thad Allen to serve as the next Commandant of the Coast Guard. Admiral Allen will receive his fourth star and promotion to Admiral when he assumes the position of Commandant.

 

Vice Admirals

The Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard is Vice Admiral Terry Cross.

 

The Chief of Staff of the Coast Guard is Vice Admiral Thad W. Allen. He also serves as Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Headquarters. After Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf states in September 2005, Admiral Allen was sent to coordinate rescue and relief operations under Federal Emergency Management Administrator Michael Brown. Mr. Brown was relieved of day-to-day operations on September 9 and Admiral Allen was placed in charge of the overall effort. Admiral Allen was relieved of this position on January 27, 2006 and has resumed his duties as Chief of Staff until he is appointed to the position of Commandant.

 

The Commander of the Atlantic Area and Maritime Defense Zone Atlantic is Vice Admiral Vivien S. Crea, who assumed the command in July 2005. The Commander of the Pacific Area and Coast Guard Defense Forces West is Vice Admiral Harvey E. Johnson, Jr..

 

In early April 2006, VADM Harvey Johnson, Jr. was nominated by President Bush to become the Deputy Director of FEMA, following his retirement from the Coast Guard.

 

Rear Admirals

The Superintendent of the United States Coast Guard Academy is Rear Admiral (upper half) (RADM) James C. Van Sice. The Director of Reserve and Training is RADM Sally Brice-O'Hara. In addition, each District is commanded by a Rear Admiral.

 

Commodores

The rank of Commodore is no longer used in the regular Coast Guard. The equivalent rank is Rear Admiral, Lower Half. The chief elected officers of the Coast Guard Auxiliary are called Commodores. This is not a military rank, however.

 

The title of Commodore is occasionally granted to senior officers (typically of of pay grade 0-6, which is a Captain) who is placed in command of a group or squadron of cutters. It is not a flag rank, but rather a title used to signify command of multiple units afloat.

 

Captains

Coast Guard Captains, like their Navy counterparts, rank immediately below Rear Admiral (lower half). Coast Guard Captains command most large operational units -- sectors, large cutters, large air stations, integrated support commands, training centers and large headquarters units. Captains also direct most headquarters, area and district staff elements. Most captains have served in the Coast Guard for 21 to 30 years.

 

By maritime tradition, the commanding officer of a ship is also called "captain" regardless of actual rank held. Thus, a young Lieutenant commanding a patrol boat is properly called "captain" even if his or her actual rank is Lieutenant, or Lieutenant (Junior Grade). This tradition has also carried over to many shore units. Occasionally, terms like "old man" and "skipper" are also used, though not usually in the presence of the "captain." However, in current usage, the person in charge of a Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary boat is the "coxswain" (pronounced cok-sun).

 

Chief Petty Officers

The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG) is the senior enlisted person of the Coast Guard and serves as an advisor to the Commandant. Like the Commandant, the MCPOCG serves a four-year term. The current MCPOCG is Frank A. Welch, who assumed this position in 2002; his term expires in 2006, and his replacement is being sought. The Master Chief of the Coast Guard Reserve is MCPO Jeff Smith.

 

Chief Petty Officers, often called "the Chief", are one of the leadership backbones of the Coast Guard. Chiefs are well versed on most anything, and the old addage of "go ask the Chief" holds true today. Chiefs are Officers-in-Charge of Motor Lifeboat Stations, act as Executive Petty Officers on Patrol Boats, and keep larger Coast Guard cutters on a true head bearing as Deck Watch Officers.

 

Regional responsibilities

The Coast Guard is divided into two Areas, the Atlantic and the Pacific, each of which is commanded by a vice admiral, with each being designated Maritime Defense Zones.

 

The Coast Guard is then organized into districts, each responsible for a portion of the nation's coastline.

 

U.S. Coast Guard Districts District Region District Office Area of Responsibility

First District Atlantic Boston, Massachusetts New England states, New York, and northern New Jersey

Fifth District Atlantic Portsmouth, Virginia Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina

Seventh District Atlantic Miami, Florida South Carolina, Georgia, eastern Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Eighth District Atlantic New Orleans, Louisiana Inland waters of the U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico

Ninth District Atlantic Cleveland, Ohio Great Lakes

Eleventh District Pacific Alameda, California California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah

Thirteenth District Pacific Seattle, Washington Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana

Fourteenth District Pacific Honolulu, Hawaii Hawaii and Pacific territories

Seventeenth District Pacific Juneau, Alaska Alaska

 

In each district, large operational centers known as Groups are being merged with Marine Safety Offices and being re-designated Sectors. Smaller boat stations are Stations, while aircraft fly from Coast Guard Air Stations. Stations report to Sectors, while Sectors and Coast Guard Air Stations report to District offices.

 

An example of this is Sector Baltimore, which is located at Curtis Bay, Maryland. Sector Baltimore is responsible for the waters from the C&O Canal north of Baltimore to the south shore of the Potomac River. In this sector there are several stations, including Coast Guard Station Annapolis, located near the United States Naval Academy, Coast Guard Station Washington, D.C., located on Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., Coast Guard Station St. Inigoes, Maryland, and Coast Guard Station Quantico, Virginia, among others. Sector Baltimore also has the Baltimore Marine Safety Office. To the south of Sector Baltimore is Sector Hampton Roads, Virginia; to the north is Sector Delaware Bay. Sector Baltimore has no air station under its operational control, but helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City and Auxiliary aircraft overfly the area on patrol.

 

Coast Guard Air Stations

The first Coast Guard Air Station was established in 1920 at Morehead City, North Carolina. Another Air Station was established in Biloxi, Mississippi between 1933 and 1947, and yet a third at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York.

 

First District

 

CGAS Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Fifth District

 

CGAS Atlantic City, New Jersey

CGAS Elizabeth City, North Carolina: This is both an operational and a training air station. Enlisted Coast Guardsmen in aviation ratings are taught at its Aviation Technical Training Center.

Seventh District

 

CGAS Clearwater, Florida

CGAS Miami, Florida

CGAS Savannah, Georgia

CGAS Borinquen, Puerto Rico

Eighth District

 

CGAS Houston, Texas

CGAS Corpus Christi, Texas

CGAS New Orleans, Louisiana

Coast Guard Aviation Training Center, Mobile, Alabama: This is both an operational and a training air station. Besides performing operational missions, Coast Guard Aviators (pilots) receive flight training on the HH-65, HH-60, and HU-25 aircraft.

Ninth District

 

CGAS Detroit, Michigan

CGAS Traverse City, Michigan

Eleventh District

 

CGAS Humboldt Bay, California

CGAS Sacramento, California

CGAS San Francisco, California

CGAS Los Angeles, California

CGAS San Diego, California

Thirteenth District

 

CGAS Astoria, Oregon

CGAS North Bend, Oregon

CGAS Port Angeles, Washington

Fourteenth District

 

CGAS Barbers Point, Hawaii

Seventeenth District

 

CGAS Kodiak, Alaska

CGAS Sitka, Alaska

Personnel

Officer Corps

Commissioned officers join the Coast Guard by several means:

 

U.S. Coast Guard Academy

The United States Coast Guard Academy is located on the Thames River in New London, Connecticut. It is the only military academy, apart from the specialized Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, to which no Congressional or Presidential appointments are made. All cadets enter by open competition utilizing SAT scores, high school grades, activities, etc. About 175 cadets are commissioned ensigns each year. Graduates of the Academy must serve 5 years' active duty.

 

Officer Candidate School

In addition to the Coast Guard Academy, officers may enter the Coast Guard through a 17-week Officer Candidate School (OCS) at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. Graduates of OCS must serve 3 years' active duty. OCS is a rigorous seventeen-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 receive a commission in the Coast Guard at the rank of Ensign and are required to serve a minimum of three years of active duty. Graduates may be assigned to a ship, flight training, to a staff job, or to an operations ashore billet. However, first assignments are based on the needs of the US Coast Guard. Personal desires and performance at OCS are considered. All graduates must be available for world wide assignment.

 

Chief Warrant Officer

Highly qualified enlisted personnel from E-6 through E-9 compete every year for appointment as a Chief Warrant Officer. Successful candidates are chosen by a board and then commissioned as Chief Warrant Officers (W-2).

 

In addition to United States citizens, foreign cadets and candidates also attend Coast Guard officer training.

 

Enlisted

Newly enlisted personnel are sent to eight weeks of Basic Training at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in Cape May, NJ. The training schedule includes:

 

Physical fitness

Water survival and swimming qualifications

Wellness and nutrition

Self discipline

Military skills

Military bearing

Following graduation, most members are sent to their first unit while they await orders to attend advanced training, in Class "A" Schools, in their chosen rating, the naval term for military occupational specialty (MOS). Some members go directly to "A" School upon graduation from Basic training.

 

Petty officers follow career development paths similar to those of the Navy.

 

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 Petaluma, California, or an equivalent Department of Defense school, to be promoted 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 CPO Academy. The basic themes of this school are:

 

Professionalism

Leadership

Communications

Systems Thinking and Lifelong Learning

Equipment

The U.S. Coast Guard uses cutters and small boats on the water, and fixed- and rotary wing (helicopters) aircraft in the air.

 

Cutters

A cutter is any Coast Guard vessel, with a permanently assigned crew and accommodations for the extended support of that crew. See chapter 10 USCG Regulations (Cutters are traditionally 65 ft. or greater in length). Larger cutters (over 180 feet (55 m) in length) are controlled by Area Commands (Atlantic Area or Pacific Area). Smaller cutters come under control of District Commands. Cutters usually carry a motor surf boat and/or a rigid-hulled inflatable boat. Polar-class icebreakers (WAGB) carry an Arctic Survey Boat (ASB) and Landing Craft. The CGC Ahi is the last 87-foot cutter to be added to the Coast Guard fleet.

 

Currently, the Coast Guard is leasing five PC-179 coastal patrol ships from the U.S. Navy; two (including CGC Monsoon operate from San Diego) and three from Pascagoula, Mississippi. These vessels are used primarily for counterdrug patrols. (PA3 Brian Leshak, "CG Leases Navy Ships, Fights Drug War." Coast Guard Magazine 2/2006, pp. 32-33).

 

 

The Guard owns about 210 aircraft. Fixed-wing aircraft, such as (HC-130 Hercules turboprops and HU-25 Guardian jets) operate from Air Stations on long-duration missions. Helicopters (HH-65 Dolphin, HH-60 Jayhawk, and MH-68 Stingray) operate from Air Stations, Air Facilities, and flight-deck equipped Cutters, and can rescue people or intercept smuggling vessels.

 

The Coast Guard flies five aircraft types:

 

HC-130 Hercules

HU-25 Falcon / Guardian [1]

HH-60 Jayhawk [2]

HH-65 Dolphin

MH-68 Stingray U.S. Coast Guard HITRON: [3]

The Coast Guard is planning to purchase 36 CASA CN-235 from Spanish aircraft manufacturer Construcciones AeronŠuticas SA (CASA) for medium range search. As of February 2, 2006, the first of the aircraft are under construction for delivery in early 2007

 

In addition to regular Coast Guard aircraft, privately-owned general aviation aircraft are used by Coast Guard Auxiliarists for patrols and search-and-rescue missions.

 

Boats

 USCG motor life boat escorting the Spirit of Ontario I Fast Ferry into the port of Rochester, New York on 2004-08-08

 

A Coast Guard 25-foot Defender- class boat from Station Seattle enforces a security zone around a Washington State Ferry in Elliot Bay Dec. 22, 2003.

 

The Coast Guard operates about 1,400 boats, defined as any vessel not designated as a Cutter (traditionally less than 65 ft. (20 meters) in length), which generally operate near shore and on inland waterways. The most common is 41 feet (12.5 meters) long, of which the Guard has more than 200; the shortest is 12 feet (4 meters).

 

Arctic Survey Boat (ASB)

Motor Life Boat (MLB)

Utility Boat (UTB)

Deployable Pursuit Boat (DPB)

Aids to Navigation Boats (TANB/BUSL/ANB/ANB)

Transportable Port Security Boat (TPSB): 25-foot boat, based on the commercial version of the 25' center-console Boston Whaler, suitable for work in inland waters, easily transportable by trailer. These are primarily used by Port Security Units for force protection in naval support areas abroad, as well as, ports of embarkation/debarkation in expeditionary areas. Most recently these boats and units were deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The durability, versatility, and mobility of these boats make them ideal for this type of operation.

 

Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHI) Rigid inflatable boats are deep-V glass-reinforced plastic hulls wrapped in a multi-compartment buoyancy tube. They are powered by a gasoline outboard motor or an inboard/outboard diesel engine. The RHI can be easily deployed from a cutter with a four-point bridle for davit lifting and lowering. The RHI's portability and ruggedness allow it to be used on many kinds of missions.

USCG Short Range Prosecutor (SRP): 7-metre launch that can be launched from a rear launching ramp, at speed

 

USCG Long Range Interceptor (LRI): 11-metre high-speed launch that can be launched from the rear ramps of the larger Deepwater cutters.

 

The Coast Guard recently introduced a standard search-and-rescue (SAR) and response boat, the is 25-foot Defender-class boat, to replace nonstandard boats and platforms at Coast Guard stations. The Defender class can go faster than 40 knots (75 km/h), cruise at 35 knots, mount an M-60 or M-240 machine gun in the bow, and be transported by a C-130 Hercules aircraft (or, more prosaically, a boat trailer.) The Defender class has twin Honda outboard motors and has a range of 105 or 125 nautical miles, depending on the type of fuel tanks used. It can launch with a 2-person crew, but has a carrying capacity for 10 persons. It has less than 1 meter (3 feet) draft.

 

Small Arms

Since 1986, Coast Guardsmen on patrol have been armed with Beretta 9 mm pistol. The Coast Guard is transitioning to the .40 caliber SigSauer P229R DAK). As of April 2006, this transition was officially complete.

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