The Coast Guard continues to celebrate the legacy of its formative services and the heroism of those who served. Our missions may have changed over the years, but one thing has remained constant: the selfless service of each and every person that takes the oath to protect their country as part of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Those familiar with Coast Guard history know that the Service’s development has been shaped in part by the nation’s response to natural and man-made disasters. Nowhere is that lesson clearer than the history of the Service’s search and rescue, or SAR, mission.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been the steward of the nation’s maritime environment since the 1820s. This mission dates back to 1822, when Congress tasked the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service with monitoring Federal forest preserves that provided specialized ship timber required for construction of U.S Navy warships.
For 225 years, the Coast Guard has served as the nation’s lead Federal maritime law enforcement agency, protecting our shores each and every day. The Coast Guard also serves as one of the nation’s five armed forces, assisting in the defense of our nation during times of war.
Each and every day, the Coast Guard combats the illicit drug trade in a six-million square mile area, including the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific. In addition to deterrence, Coast Guard drug interdiction accounts for nearly 52% of all U.S. government seizures of cocaine each year.
The technology has changed over the years but not the mission: to safeguard the Nation’s waterways and the ships, craft and personnel that ply those waters, maintaining the nation’s economy by supporting, guiding and protecting the most efficient form of transport we have – our Nation’s waterborne commercial vessels.
As the Nation’s environmental and Homeland Security priorities continue to evolve, the Coast Guard’s living marine resources mission will continue to evolve in order to meet shifting demands. Throughout all the changes, however, one thing will remain certain: the Coast Guard will remain ‘Semper Paratus’ to ensure safety, security and stewardship- protecting life, not only at sea, but within the sea as well.
The Coast Guard began its mission of migrant interdiction on the high-seas in 1794, when the Congress of the United States declared that no American citizen may carry slaves from the U.S. to another nation or between foreign nations. The Coast Guard, through its predecessor the Revenue Cutter Service, was charged with enforcing this law.
In the U.S. Coast Guard, the responsibility to safeguard life at sea falls heavily on the shoulders of those who operate within the marine safety mission. This mission does this by striving to prevent maritime incidents through regulation and inspections of commercial vessels and by conducting thorough investigations when accidents do occur.
The genesis of the Coast Guard’s ports, waterways and coastal security, or PWCS, mission dates back to 1888 when its predecessor agency, the Revenue Cutter Service, was tasked with the movement and anchorage of vessels in New York.