About Us


For over two centuries the U.S. Coast Guard has safeguarded our Nation’s maritime interests in the heartland, in the ports, at sea, and around the globe. We protect the maritime economy and the environment, we defend our maritime borders, and we save those in peril. This history has forged our character and purpose as America’s Maritime Guardian — Always Ready for all hazards and all threats.

Today’s U.S. Coast Guard, with nearly 42,000 men and women on active duty, is a unique force that carries out an array of civil and military responsibilities touching almost every facet of the U.S. maritime environment.

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

Coast Guard crew from Station New York on Staten Island patrol the waters surrounding the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor at dusk during a ports, waterways and coastal security patrol.


By law, the Coast Guard has 11 missions: (listed in order of percentage of operating expenses)

Thus, we are military, multi-mission, and maritime.

A Military Service

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.

As members of a military service, Guardians on active duty and in the Reserve are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and receive the same pay and allowances as members of the same pay grades in the other four armed services.

Key Dates in Coast Guard History

1790: Revenue-Marine (later renamed Revenue Cutter Service) created within the Treasury Department
1915: Revenue Cutter Service combines with the U.S. Lifesaving Service (est. 1848) to create the Coast Guard
1939: U.S. Lighthouse Service (est. 1789) added
1946: Steamboat Inspection Service (est. 1838) added
1967: Coast Guard transferred to Department of Transportation
2003: Coast Guard transferred to Department of Homeland Security

Member of Maritime Safety and Security Team 91110 out of Boston, looks out onto the East River during an early morning security patrol.

Last Modified 8/31/2009