Typically in Iowa we think about the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. But there is a branch of the Armed Forces that has a tremendous impact on our everyday lives – the United States Coast Guard. As you will see below, they protect us from the dangers of illicit drug imports, make sure vessels are in compliance with regulations, and many more extremely important duties.
We thought it would be useful to provide our readers with some information about the Coast Guard – directly from the horse’s mouth.
(And yes, this article does mention 842 pounds of cocaine.)
Overview of the United States Coast Guard
The U.S. Coast Guard is one of the five armed forces of the United States and the only military organization within the Department of Homeland Security. Since 1790 the Coast Guard has safeguarded our Nation's maritime interests and environment around the world. The Coast Guard is an adaptable, responsive military force of maritime professionals whose broad legal authorities, capable assets, geographic diversity and expansive partnerships provide a persistent presence along our rivers, in the ports, littoral regions and on the high seas. Coast Guard presence and impact is local, regional, national and international. These attributes make the Coast Guard a unique instrument of maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship.
On an Average Day, the Coast Guard...
- Saves 12 lives
- Responds to 64 search & rescue cases
- Keeps 842 pounds of cocaine off the streets
- Services 116 buoys & fixes 24 discrepancies
- Screens 720 commercial vessels & 183,000 crew & passengers
- Issues 173 credentials to merchant mariners
- Investigates 13 marine accidents
- Inspects 68 containers
- Inspects 29 vessels for compliance with air emissions standards
- Performs 28 safety & environmental examinations of foreign vessels
- Boards 13 fishing boats to ensure compliance with fisheries laws
- Responds and investigates 10 pollution incidents
U. S. Coast Guard History
The U. S. Coast Guard is simultaneously and at all times a military force and federal law enforcement agency dedicated to safety, security, and stewardship missions. We save lives. We protect the environment. We defend the homeland. We enforce Federal laws on the high seas, the nation's coastal waters and its inland waterways. We are unique in the Nation and the world.
Our official history began on 4 August 1790 when the first Congress authorized the construction of ten vessels to enforce federal tariff and trade laws and to prevent smuggling. Known variously through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the Revenue Marine and the Revenue Cutter Service, we expanded in size and responsibilities as the nation grew.
The service received its present name in 1915 under an act of Congress that merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the Life-Saving Service, thereby providing the nation with a single maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation's maritime laws. The Coast Guard began to maintain the country's aids to maritime navigation, including operating the nation's lighthouses, when President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the transfer of the Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard in 1939. In 1946 Congress permanently transferred the Commerce Department's Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to the Coast Guard, thereby placing merchant marine licensing and merchant vessel safety under our purview.
The Coast Guard is one of the oldest organizations of the federal government and until Congress established the Navy Department in 1798 we served as the nation's only armed force afloat. We protected the nation throughout our long history and served proudly in every one of the nation's conflicts. Our national defense responsibilities remain one of our most important functions even today. In times of peace we operate as part of the Department of Homeland Security, serving as the nation's front-line agency for enforcing the nation's laws at sea, protecting the marine environment and the nation's vast coastline and ports, and saving life. In times of war, or at the direction of the President, we serve under the Navy Department.