The Unique Role of the U.S. Coast Guard


Coast Guard Missions The Coast Guard does not fall under the Department of Defense. Until recently, the Coast Guard was under the Department of Transportation. Recent legislation has move the Coast Guard to the newly created Department of Homeland Defense.

However, the Coast Guard is considered a military service, because, during times of war or conflict, the President of the United States can transfer any or all assets of the Coast Guard to the Department of the Navy. In fact, this has been done in almost every single conflict that the United States have ever been involved in. The Coast Guard is commanded by a 4-star admiral, known as the Coast Guard Commandant.

The Coast Guard is the nation's oldest continuous seagoing service with responsibilities including Search and Rescue (SAR), Maritime Law Enforcement (MLE), Aids to Navigation (ATON), Ice Breaking, Environmental Protection, Port Security and Military Readiness. In order to accomplish these missions the Coast Guard has approximately 40,000 active-duty men and women, 8,000 Reservists, and 35,000 Auxiliary personnel who serve in a variety of job fields ranging from operation specialists and small-boat operators and maintenance specialists to electronic technicians and aviation mechanics. The Coast Guard, during an average day, will:

  • Conduct 109 search and rescue cases
  • Save 10 lives assist 192 people in distress
  • Protect $2,791,841 in property
  • Launch 396 small boat missions
  • Launch 164 aircraft missions, logging 324 hours
  • Board 144 vessels
  • Seize 169 pounds of marijuana and 306 pounds of cocaine worth $9,589,000
  • Intercept 14 illegal migrants
  • Board 100 large vessels for port safety checks
  • Respond to 20 oil or hazardous chemical spills totaling 2,800 gallons
  • Service 135 aids to navigation

Read more about Coast Guard Missions in the News

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