United States Coast Guard

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United States Coast Guard

Lineup 4th August 1790
Country United StatesUnited States United States
Armed forces United States Armed Forces
Type Police / Coast Guard
Strength 41,873
Insinuation Department of Homeland Security
Location Washington, DC
Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Karl L. Schultz
Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Charles W. Ray
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Master Chief Jason M. Vanderhaden
Racing Stripe
USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715)

The United States Coast Guard ( USCG ; English for " United States Coast Guard ") is an executive body of the federal government of the United States and one of the eight Uniformed Services of the United States .

The US Coast Guard has its own code of law (Title 14, United States Code ) in federal law , which defines the mission, organization and resources of the agency. The diverse spectrum of the Coast Guard comprises eleven legally defined areas of responsibility.

The United States Coast Guard is by law one of the United States' armed forces . In the event of peace, it reports to the United States Department of Homeland Security . The Coast Guard may be subordinated to the Ministry of the Navy as a sub-armed force upon the direction of the President in an executive order or in the context of a declaration of war by Congress . For this purpose, the authority is organized militarily in personnel and procurement matters. The Coast Guard is based in the federal capital Washington, DC

Since the US Coast Guard carries out neither purely police nor purely military tasks, it corresponds to the definition of a state paramilitary organization.



The United States Coast Guard was formed on January 28, 1915 by merging the Revenue Cutter Service ("Zollkutterdienst") and US Life-Saving Service ("Maritime Rescue Service "). The Zollkutterdienst was established in 1780 under the leadership of Alexander Hamilton, by resolution of the Congress of the United States as a Revenue Marine ("Zollmarine") to fight smugglers and pirates on the American east coast . After the establishment of the American Navy in 1789, the Revenue Marine continued to operate as the Revenue Cutter Service .

First World War

The Coast Guard's first war deployment took place with America's entry into World War I in 1917. 15 ships and 5,200 Coast Guard men took part in World War I and were used, among other things, for escort duties and submarine hunting. After the war, a major role for the Coast Guard was to combat alcohol smuggling during Prohibition in the United States from 1920-1933. In addition, she received speedboats and the Navy made 25 destroyers available.

In addition, a special cryptanalysis unit was established, the United States Coast Guard Unit 387 . Perhaps its most significant contribution to the nation came from this unit after the United States entered World War II . She managed the fraction of intercepted secret radio messages , code name Green ( German  "Green" ), with which the German Defense ( Intelligence of the Armed Forces ) its worldwide spy network controlled, and using the rotor machine Enigma G encrypted were.

In 1939 the were Lighthouse Service (dt. Lighthouse Service ) and the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation (to German supervisory, monitoring and approval authority for the merchant and fishing shipping ) taken over by the Coast Guard. This brought all of America's maritime authorities under one roof.

Second World War

In the Second World War , the Coast Guard was again subordinated to the United States Navy from 1941 and took part in the fighting in the Atlantic and Pacific . The fleet grew during the war to 802 units of over 21 m in length. The manpower increased to around 171,200 men. The Coast Guard provided personnel for 351 war and auxiliary ships of the US Navy and for 288 landing and transport ships of the US Army . The task of the coast guard included escorting in the Atlantic and on the American east coast . Twelve German submarines were sunk by them, but the coast guard also suffered its own losses.

Cold War

Since 1945, the Coast Guard has resumed all maritime police and customs duties in the territorial waters, ports and inland lakes of the United States. It also controls compliance with environmental and fisheries protection. It operates the buoying of the waters, the beacons and the icebreaker service. She is also responsible for the sea ​​weather service , sea ​​rescue , rescue assistance, ice control and ice warning service. She checks the safety equipment on all newly built ships. Other priorities are currently the fight against cross-border drug smuggling and terrorism and illegal migration to the United States.

In the Korean War (1950–1953) the Coast Guard was deployed in the same way as in the Vietnam War (1960–1975), where it was involved with 31 units in monitoring the Vietnamese coast and took over logistical tasks. In 1984, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Transport signed an agreement that would involve the Coast Guard more closely in territorial defense in peacetime. She is now responsible for anti-submarine and mine defense as well as escort protection and port and road security in the 200 nautical miles (approx. 370 km) wide Maritime Defense Zones ("maritime defense zones "). The Coast Guard also participates in maneuvers by the United States Navy and its allies, which lead the ships into the Caribbean and the Baltic Sea .

Since 2001, the Coast Guard has been involved in all wars in the United States in its role as a military service. Coast Guard units also operated in inland Afghanistan and during the Iraq war. Their experience in boarding ships has been used for searches. Coast Guard ships regularly take part in patrols in the Persian Gulf , they are particularly suitable for controlling sea routes and are used accordingly. In August 2014, a Coast Guard patrol boat in the Persian Gulf opened fire on an Iranian fishing boat when the crew was threatened with a rifle by one of the Iranians. There were no injuries, the boats turned away from each other.

In the wake of the growing foreign trade deficit and the increasing debt of the United States, the American Coast Guard is coming under pressure to save. A much-needed $ 24 billion renewal program ( Integrated Deepwater System Program ) that began in 2005 has been extended by two years to 2009. It is thus the only US armed forces that has not benefited from the increased defense budget since President George W. Bush took office.

On its 217th anniversary in August 2007, the Coast Guard celebrated 1 million lives saved.


The declared goal is to protect public safety and order as well as the environment and to enforce economic and security interests of the United States in all waters of the world, if necessary also in international waters or in American ports , coastal areas or inland waters. For them specifically, this also includes maintaining all navigation infrastructure on the seas (English assistance to navigation , abbreviated ATON ). In practice, combating drug smuggling is the main task of the Coast Guard. It confiscates more drugs each year than any other US police or other agency.


There are approximately 38,000 men and women on active service with the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as 8,000 reservists and 35,000 support personnel.

Even if the Coast Guard primarily takes on civilian tasks, such as police duties, cleaning up environmental damage or the maintenance of sea ​​routes , in this context it plays an important role for the internal security of the USA and has been the Ministry of the Interior since March 1, 2003 in peacetime Assumed security. Until then, it had been under the US Department of Transportation since 1967 . Before that, she was part of the national naval forces , whose direct command the Coast Guard can only be placed under in the event of war, threat of war or national emergency on the instructions of the President of the United States .

The motto of the United States Coast Guard is Semper paratus ( Latin : "Always ready").

The officer training takes place at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London (Connecticut) instead. The Coast Guard maintains its own police force ( Provost ): Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) ; this is headquartered in Arlington County (Virginia). Your motto is

“The Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) is a federal investigative and protective program established to carry out the Coast Guard's internal and external criminal investigations; to assist in providing personal security services; to protect the welfare of Coast Guard people; to aid in preserving the internal integrity of the Coast Guard; and to support Coast Guard missions worldwide. "

- motto

This organizational unit consists of 112 active military special agents , 121 civilian special agents (1811 series) and 158 special agents of the Coast Guard Reserve. The CGIS has 35 resident agent offices in addition to the headquarters. The CGIS is headed by David Leighton, Acting Director, Coast Guard Investigative Service.

The United States Coast Guard also operated the OMEGA radio navigation system and operated the LORAN-C transmitters outside the United States until 1994 .

Command structure

Adm. Karl L. Schultz

The current (26th) Commanding Admiral of the Coast Guard ( Commandant of the Coast Guard ) is since 1 June 2018 Karl L. Schultz . Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard is Admiral Charles W. Ray .

The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard is a service position on the staff. The incumbent, a sergeant , is appointed by the commandant ; he mediates and advises both internally and externally. The current office is Master Chief Jason M. Vanderhaden (took office on May 22, 2014). There is also the position of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Reserve Force for reservist matters - " United States Coast Guard Reserve " - in the staff of the Coast Guard ; this is currently Master Chief Mark H. Allen.


The ranks of the American Coast Guard are similar to those of the United States Navy . However, the uniform is a little different (e.g. the Coast Guard does not have sailor suits).

Territorial organization

Coast Guard Sectors (Sector Commands)

The organization of the coast guard is divided into two areas (English areas , namely the Atlantic and Pacific), nine districts (English districts ) and 35 sectors (English sectors ). The number of bases ( Coast Guard Stations and Coast Guard Air Stations ) differ from sector to sector. The areas are led by a vice admiral , the districts by a rear admiral and the sectors by a captain .

The Coast Guard also has its own intelligence service: the United States Coast Guard Intelligence .

Atlantic Area (LANTAREA)

Baton ( Area Command Staff )
Staffs of the Atlantic Area Coast Guard Units

Pacific Area (PACAREA)

Baton ( Area Command Staff )
Staffs of the Pacific Area Coast Guard Units

Coast Guard Air Stations are bases for the numerous aircraft of the Coast Guard.

Authorities within the US Coast Guard

The US Coast Guard Legal Division is a division of Headquarters and is part of the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG) . There are several military chaplains of the Coast Guard (Chaplain of the Coast Guard) , they belong to the Navy Chaplain Corps and are responsible, among other things, for ensuring the free practice of religion.

The United Coast Guard Historian's Office is headed by an officer to update the history of the Coast Guard .

Legal status

From its inception on January 28, 1915 through 2003, the United States Coast Guard was basically a part of the US armed forces under American military law . When the United States Department of Homeland Security was created, the Coast Guard came under it. By Presidial or in the event of a declaration of war by the Congress will automatically be subject to the Navy until the President otherwise decreed .


Desired purchases under the Integrated Deepwater System program
The Bertholf , the US Coast Guard's first National Security Cutter
A 47-foot Motor Life Boat (47 MLB) departing Coast Guard Station Morro Bay
The icebreaker USCGC Healy (approx. 128 m)
Large icebreakers (here the CGC Polar Star) are also part of the USCG's fleet
Training ship Eagle
United States Coast Guard's HC-130

The coast guard's equipment includes around 2,000 watercraft , from rubber dinghies to cruisers with on- board cannons to large icebreakers. The Coast Guard's first ship was the Vigilant of the United States Revenue Cutter Service, commissioned in 1791, with a 35-ton displacement. The floating units are predominantly referred to as “cutters” (hence the last “C” in the prefix), even if they are often not cutters in terms of shipbuilding . It maintains its own facilities for the training of officers and NCOs, such as the Eagle (ex Horst Wessel ), which is the only active military sailing training ship in the country.

The largest vehicle and the largest ship of the Coast Guard is the icebreaker USCGC Healy , which was commissioned in 1999 and is 128 meters long.

They also have 211 aircraft for search and rescue missions (SAR) and for sea ​​reconnaissance . In addition to the modified Dassault Falcon 20 (USCG designation: HU-25 Guardian), modified Lockheed C-130s are also used for long-haul operations. The turbo-prop aircraft under the identification HC-130 serve as the basis for SAR missions and are usually the first aircraft to arrive at the scene of the accident. Part of the C-130 will be replaced by the Alenia C-27J from around 2014 .

The Coast Guard uses two helicopter models for rescue, drug control and water protection:

  • The HH-60 Jayhawk, a variant of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, based on the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation's Sea Hawk . It has a high-performance winch for a load of 272 kg and external tanks for a maximum operating period of 6:30 hours within a radius of 300 nautical miles, but does not have swimming properties like its predecessor the HH-3F Pelican .
  • The HH-65 Dolphin , the American version of the European Eurocopter Dauphin . Due to its compact design, it also serves as a liaison helicopter and enables deck landings on the larger coastguard ships. Like the Jayhawk, it has no swimming properties. Another type is the Agusta A109 . Under the identification MH-68 Stingray, it is used more for drug control and water protection. It is primarily flown by the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON).

As part of its mission, the United States Coast Guard also has weapons. In contrast to most coast guards, the arsenal of weapons extends from pistols to assault rifles, shotguns to light and heavy machine guns as well as occasional weapons over the 12.7 × 99 mm NATO caliber and on-board cannons.

Integrated Deepwater System Program

As part of the Integrated Deepwater System Program , the Coast Guard plans to modernize its air and sea fleet with new acquisitions. The 24 billion US dollar program was started in June 2001 and provides for the purchase of new vehicles over a period of 25 years, but also the upgrading of existing systems and the renewal of communication systems. According to plans, the HH-65 Dolphin helicopters will be converted into multi-mission cutter helicopters by the end of 2007 . The new variant C then has more powerful engines, which enables the helicopters to fly faster and transport more load.

Other projects include Medium Range Surveillance Aircraft , the Coast Guard is purchasing Casa CN 235 to replace the HU-25 Guardian , Fast Response Cutters to replace the small patrol boats and eight 125.2 m long National Security Cutters to replace the Hamilton class.

The first National Security Cutter , the USCGC Bertholf , entered service on August 4, 2008 and was stationed in Alameda , California. It is a seaworthy ship for long-term missions in the Pacific Ocean , has a landing deck and two helicopter hangars and a 57 mm cannon. Its electronics are derived from the Aegis system and should enable close cooperation with the United States Navy . The USCGC Waesche was handed over to the Coast Guard on November 6, 2009 as the second ship of the class.

See also


  • Sebastian Bruns: World Sea Power and Maritime Security: Selected Strategies, Capacities and Challenges of the United States of America . In: Sebastian Bruns, Kerstin Petretto, David Petrovic: Maritime Security . VS-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 978-3-531-18479-1 , pp. 165-182.

Web links

Commons : United States Coast Guard  - Collection of pictures, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Title 6> Chapter 1> Subchapter VIII> Part H> § 468. Preserving Coast Guard mission performance . Cornell Law School (English); Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  2. Title 14, Part I, Chapter 1, § 1 Establishment of Coast Guard . Cornell Law School (English); Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  3. Title 14, Part I, Chapter 1, § 3. Relationship to Navy Department . Cornell Law School (English); Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  4. ^ Christian Le Mière: Policing the Waves: Maritime Paramilitaries in the Asia-Pacific . In: Survival , 53, 2011, 1, p. 140
  5. Lewis Page: US Coastguard 'cutters' could offer network vuln . In: The Register , September 28, 2007 (English); Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  6. ^ Sarah Sicard: How Alexander Hamilton Launched The Coast Guard. Retrieved July 18, 2020 .
  7. ^ The Coast Guard at War . U.S. Coast Guard, Oct. 11, 2012
  8. US Coast Guard fires on Iranian fishing boat . CNN , Aug. 27, 2014
  9. Patricia Kime: Coast Guard toasts birthday, 1M lives saved . ( Memento from September 5, 2012 in the web archive archive.today ) In: Navy Times , August 6, 2007 (English); Retrieved January 18, 2009.
  10. The Atlantic: Exclusive: ACLU Alleges Coast Guard Detained and Abused Fishermen , June 12, 2019
  11. ^ United States Coast Guard Investigative Service. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  12. uscg.mil
  13. ^ Senior Coast Guard Leadership. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012
  14. ^ Atlantic Area Commander Vice Adm. Robert C. Parker. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  15. ^ Atlantic Area Deputy Commander Rear Adm. Kevin S. Cook. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  16. ^ Atlantic Area Chief of Staff Captain Peter J. Brown. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  17. ^ Atlantic Area Command Master Chief Chief Petty Officer Steven Cantrell. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  18. ^ Atlantic Area Reserve Command Master Chief Chief Petty Officer William J. Dikun. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  19. ^ Atlantic Area Chaplain Captain William Dennis W. Young. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  20. ^ District 1 Command Staff. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  21. ^ D05 Commander Rear Adm. Steven H. Ratti. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  22. D05 Chief of Staff Captain Lincoln Straw. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  23. D07 Commander Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  24. D07 Cheif of Staff Captain Richard M. Kenin. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  25. ^ District 8 Command Staff. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  26. ^ District 9 Command Staff. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  27. ^ PACIFIC AREA Area Command Staff. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012
  28. ^ D11 Commander Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Karl L. Schultz. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  29. ^ D11 Chief of Staff Captain John F. Prince. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  30. ^ D13 Commander Rear Adm. Keith A Taylor. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  31. ^ D14 Commander Rear Adm. Charles W. Ray. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  32. ^ D14 Chief of Staff Captain Meredith Austin. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  33. USCG District 17. uscg.mil (English); accessed on August 31, 2012.
  34. www.uscg.mil United Coast Guard Historian's Office (Eng.)
  35. ^ 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. - To German: "The Coast Guard, as it came into being on January 28, 1915, shall at all times be a military force and part of the armed forces of the United States." Legal text on the website of the Cornell Law School . Accessed April 6, 2007.
  36. Upon the declaration of war or when the President directs, the Coast Guard shall operate as a service in the Navy, and shall so continue until the President, by Executive order, transfers the Coast Guard back to the Department of Homeland Security. - Engl .: "The Coast Guard is to a declaration of war or a related order of the President in the event Navy under stand until the president's insinuation has under the Department of Homeland Security." Legal text on the website of Cornell Law School . Accessed April 6, 2007.
  37. ^ Cutters & Craft . US Coast Guard Historian's Office
  38. Jane's Defense Weekly , Aug. 13, 2008, p. 32
  39. ap_coastguard_cutter_waesche_110809 / Coast Guard takes delivery of cutter Waesche . In: Navy Times , Nov. 8, 2009