United States Coast Guard
US-CoastGuard-Seal.svg
Seal of the United States Coast Guard
Mark of the U.S. Coast Guard.svg
U.S. Coast Guard service mark
Founded28 January 1915
(106 years, 6 months)
(As current service)

4 August 1790
(231 years)
(As Revenue-Marine)[1]


Country United States
TypeCoast guard
RolePort and waterway security
Drug interdiction
Aids to navigation
Search and rescue
Living marine resources
Marine safety
Defense readiness
Migrant interdiction
Marine environmental protection
Ice operations
Law enforcement
Size40,992 active duty personnel
7,000 reserve personnel
31,000 auxiliarists
8,577 civilian personnel (as of 2018)[2]
Part ofUnited States Armed Forces
Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security.svg Department of Homeland Security
HeadquartersDouglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building, Washington, D.C., U.S.
Nickname(s)
Motto(s)
  • Semper Paratus
  • Always ready
ColorsCG Red, CG Blue, White[4]
     
March"Semper Paratus" About this soundPlay 
Anniversaries4 August
EquipmentList of U.S. Coast Guard equipment
Engagements
Decorations
Websitewww.uscg.mil
Commanders
Commander-in-Chief President Joe Biden
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas
Commandant ADM Karl L. Schultz
Vice Commandant ADM Linda L. Fagan
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast GuardMCPOCG Jason M. Vanderhaden
Insignia
EnsignEnsign of the United States Coast Guard.svg
Racing StripeCGMark W.svg
FlagFlag of the United States Coast Guard.svg
JackJack of the United States.svg

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is the maritime security, search and rescue, and law enforcement service branch of the United States Armed Forces[6] and one of the country's eight uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the U.S. military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission with jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters and a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its duties. It operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, and can be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Navy under the Department of Defense by the U.S. President at any time, or by the U.S. Congress during times of war. Prior to its transfer to Homeland Security, it operated under the Department of Transportation from 1967 to 2003 and the Department of the Treasury from its inception until 1967.[7][8] A congressional authority transfer has only happened once: in 1917, during World War I.[9] When the U.S. entered World War II in December 1941, the Coast Guard had already been transferred by Franklin Roosevelt in November.[10]

Created by the U.S. Congress on 4 August 1790 at the request of Alexander Hamilton as the Revenue-Marine, it is the oldest continuous seagoing service of the United States.[Note 1] As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton headed the Revenue-Marine, whose original purpose was collecting customs duties at U.S. seaports. By the 1860s, the service was known as the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the term Revenue-Marine gradually fell into disuse.[11]

The modern Coast Guard was formed by a merger of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life-Saving Service on 28 January 1915, under the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In 1939, the U.S. Lighthouse Service was also merged into the Coast Guard. As one of the country's six armed services, the Coast Guard has been involved in every major U.S. war since 1790, from the Quasi-War with France to the Global War on Terrorism.[12][13]

As of 2018, the Coast Guard had 40,992 active duty personnel, 7,000 reservists,[Note 2] 8,577 full-time civilian employees, and 31,000 auxiliary members for a total workforce of 87,569.[2] The Coast Guard maintains an extensive fleet of 243 coastal and ocean-going patrol ships, tenders, tugs, icebreakers, and 1,650 smaller boats, as well as an aviation division consisting of 201 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.[14] While the U.S. Coast Guard is the second smallest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of membership, the U.S. Coast Guard by itself was the world's 12th largest naval force in 2018.[15][16]

Mission

Role

A boatswain's mate keeps watch on a small boat as it heads for the USCGC Chandeleur in 2008

The Coast Guard carries out three basic roles, which are further subdivided into eleven statutory missions. The three roles are:

With a decentralized organization and much responsibility placed on even the most junior personnel, the Coast Guard is frequently lauded for its quick responsiveness and adaptability in a broad range of emergencies. In a 2005 article in Time magazine following Hurricane Katrina, the author wrote, "the Coast Guard's most valuable contribution to [a military effort when catastrophe hits] may be as a model of flexibility, and most of all, spirit." Wil Milam, a rescue swimmer from Alaska told the magazine, "In the Navy, it was all about the mission. Practicing for war, training for war. In the Coast Guard, it was, take care of our people and the mission will take care of itself."[17]

Missions

A Coast Guard Aviation Survival Technician assisting with the rescue of a pregnant birthing person during Hurricane Katrina in 2005
A demonstration of warning shots fired at a non-compliant boat by a USCG HITRON MH-65C and its M240 machine gun

The eleven statutory missions as defined by law are divided into homeland security missions and non-homeland security missions:[18]

Non-homeland security missions

  • Ice operations, including the International Ice Patrol
  • Living marine resources (fisheries law enforcement)
  • Marine environmental protection
  • Marine safety
  • Aids to navigation
    • Defense readiness
    • Maritime law enforcement
    • Migrant interdiction
    • Ports, waterways and coastal security (PWCS)
    • Logo of the Search and Rescue Program of the U.S. Coast Guard

      The U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue (CG-SAR) is one of the Coast Guard's best-known operations.[19] The National Search and Rescue Plan designates the Coast Guard as the federal agency responsible for maritime SAR operations, and the United States Air Force as the federal agency responsible for inland SAR.[20] Both agencies maintain rescue coordination centers to coordinate this effort, and have responsibility for both military and civilian search and rescue.[21] The two services jointly provide instructor staff for the National Search and Rescue School that trains SAR mission planners and coordinators. Previously located on Governors Island, New York, the school is now located at Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown at Yorktown, Virginia. [22]

      National Response Center

      An NRC FEMA First Team truck being loaded onto a Coast Guard plane for flight to Puerto Rico

      Operated by the Coast Guard, the National Response Center (NRC) is the sole U.S. Government point of contact for reporting all oil, chemical, radiological, biological, and etiological spills and discharges into the environment, anywhere in the United States and its territories.[23] In addition to gathering and distributing spill/incident information for Federal On Scene Coordinators and serving as the communications and operations center for the National Response Team, the NRC maintains agreements with a variety of federal entities to make additional notifications regarding incidents meeting established trigger criteria. The NRC also takes Maritime Suspicious Activity and Security Breach Reports. Details on the NRC organization and specific responsibilities can be found in the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan.[24] The Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement (MISLE) database system is managed and used by the Coast Guard for tracking pollution and safety incidents in the nation's ports.[25][26][27]

      National Maritime Center

      The National Maritime Center (NMC) is the merchant mariner credentialing authority for the USCG under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. To ensure a safe, secure, and environmentally sound marine transportation system, the mission of the NMC is to issue credentials to fully qualified mariners in the United States maritime jurisdiction.[28]

      Authority as an armed service

      Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) hooking and climbing onto a target to show the skills needed to complete a variety of missions dealing with anti-terrorism, protecting local maritime assets, and harbor and inshore security patrols as well as detecting, stopping, and arresting submerged divers, using the Underwater Port Security System

      The six uniformed services that make up the U.S. Armed Forces are defined in Title 10 of the U.S. Code:

      The term "armed forces" means the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard.[29][30]

      The Coast Guard is further defined by Title 14 of the United States Code:

      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. The Coast Guard shall be a service in the Department of Homeland Security, except when operating as a service in the Navy.[31]

      Coast Guard organization and operation is as set forth in Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

      On 25 November 2002, the Homeland Security Act was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush, designating the Coast Guard to be placed under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The transfer of administrative control from the U.S. Department of Transportation to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was completed the following year, on 1 March 2003.[32][33][34]

      The U.S. Coast Guard reports directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security. However, under 14 U.S.C. § 3 as amended by section 211 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2006, upon the declaration of war and when Congress so directs in the declaration, or when the President directs, the Coast Guard operates under the Department of Defense as a service in the Department of the Navy.[35]

      As members of the military, Coast Guardsmen on active and reserve service 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 uniformed services. [36]

      The service has participated in every major U.S. conflict from 1790 through today, including landing troops on D-Day and on the Pacific Islands in World War II, in extensive patrols and shore bombardment during the Vietnam War, and multiple roles in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Maritime interception operations, coastal security, transportation security, and law enforcement detachments have been its major roles in recent conflicts in Iraq.[37]

      USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) and USCGC Mellon (WHEC-717) cruising side by side in the Java Sea on May 28, 2010

      On 17 October 2007, the Coast Guard joined with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps to adopt a new maritime strategy called A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower that raised the notion of prevention of war to the same philosophical level as the conduct of war.[38] This new strategy charted a course for the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps to work collectively with each other and international partners to prevent regional crises, man-made or natural, from occurring, or reacting quickly should one occur to avoid negative impacts to the United States. During the launch of the new U.S. maritime strategy at the International Seapower Symposium at the U.S. Naval War College in 2007, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen said the new maritime strategy reinforced the time-honored missions the service has carried out in the United States since 1790. "It reinforces the Coast Guard maritime strategy of safety, security and stewardship, and it reflects not only the global reach of our maritime services but the need to integrate and synchronize and act with our coalition and international partners to not only win wars ... but to prevent wars," Allen said.[38]

      Authority as a law enforcement agency

      A member of USCG Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 106 performing a security sweep aboard a tanker ship in the North Persian Gulf in July 2007
      A Coast Guardsman stands guard over more than 40,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $500 million being offloaded from the Cutter Sherman, 23 April 2007. The drugs were seized in three separate busts near Central America. The offload included approximately 38,000 pounds of cocaine seized in the largest cocaine bust in maritime history.

      Title 14 USC, section 2 authorizes the Coast Guard to enforce U.S. federal laws.[39] This authority is further defined in 14 U.S.C. § 522, which gives law enforcement powers to all Coast Guard commissioned officers, warrant officers, and petty officers.[40] Unlike the other branches of the United States Armed Forces, which are prevented from acting in a law enforcement capacity by 18 U.S.C. § 1385, the Posse Comitatus Act, and Department of Defense policy, the Coast Guard is exempt from and not subject to the restrictions of the Posse Comitatus Act.[41]

      Further law enforcement authority is given by 14 U.S.C. § 703 and 19 U.S.C. § 1401, which empower U.S. Coast Guard active and reserve commissioned officers, warrant officers, and petty officers as federal customs officers.[42][43] This places them under 19 U.S.C. § 1589a, which grants customs officers general federal law enforcement authority, including the authority to:

      (1) carry a firearm;
      (2) execute and serve any order, warrant, subpoena, summons, or other process issued under the authority of the United States;
      (3) make an arrest without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in the officer's presence or for a felony, cognizable under the laws of the United States committed outside the officer's presence if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony; and
      (4) perform any other law enforcement duty that the Secretary of Homeland Security may designate.

      — 19 USC §1589a. Enforcement authority of customs officers[44]

      The U.S. Government Accountability Office Report to the House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary on its 2006 Survey of Federal Civilian Law Enforcement Functions and Authorities, identified the Coast Guard as one of 104 federal components that employed law enforcement officers.[45] The report also included a summary table of the authorities of the Coast Guard's 192 special agents and 3,780 maritime law enforcement boarding officers.[46]

      Coast Guardsmen have the legal authority to carry their service-issued firearms on and off base. This is rarely done in practice, however; at many Coast Guard stations, commanders prefer to have all service-issued weapons in armories when not in use. Still, one court has held in the case of People v. Booth that Coast Guard boarding officers are qualified law enforcement officers authorized to carry personal firearms off-duty for self-defense.[47]

History

Marine Corps Privates First Class William A. McCoy and Ralph L. Plunkett holding a sign thanking the Coast Guard after the Battle of Guam in 1944[48]

The Coast Guard traced its roots to the small fleet of vessels maintained by the United States Department of the Treasury beginning in the 1790s to enforce tariffs (an important source of revenue for the new nation). Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton lobbied Congress to fund the construction of ten cutters, which it did on 4 August 1790 (now celebrated as the Coast Guard's official birthday). Until the re-establishment of the Navy in 1798, these "revenue cutters" were the only naval force of the early United States. As such, the cutters and their crews frequently took on additional duties, including combating piracy, rescuing mariners in distress, ferrying government officials, and even carrying mail.[49] Initially not an organized federal agency at all, merely a "system of cutters," each ship operated under the direction of the customs officials in the port to which it was assigned. Several names, including "Revenue-Marine," were used as the service gradually becoming more organized. Eventually it was officially organized as the United States Revenue Cutter Service. In addition to its regular law enforcement and customs duties, revenue cutters served in combat alongside the Navy in various armed conflicts including the American Civil War. [50]

The modern Coast Guard was created in 1915, when the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service. The Lighthouse Service and the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation were absorbed by the Coast Guard 1939 and 1942 respectively.[51][52] In 1967, the Coast Guard moved from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to the newly formed U.S. Department of Transportation, an arrangement that lasted until it was placed under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2003 as part of legislation designed to more efficiently protect American interests following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.[53]

A gun crew on board USCGC Point Comfort (WPB-82317) firing an 81mm mortar during the bombardment of a suspected Viet Cong staging area one mile behind An Thoi in August 1965

In times of war, the Coast Guard or individual components of it can operate as a service of the Department of the Navy. This arrangement has a broad historical basis, as the Coast Guard has been involved in wars as diverse as the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War, and the American Civil War, in which the cutter Harriet Lane fired the first naval shots attempting to relieve besieged Fort Sumter. The last time the Coast Guard operated as a whole within the Navy was in World War II, in all some 250,000 served in the Coast Guard during World War II.[54]

United States Coast Guard Squadron One unit patch during the Vietnam War

Coast Guard Squadron One, was a combat unit formed by the United States Coast Guard in 1965 for service during the Vietnam War. Placed under the operational control of the United States Navy, it was assigned duties in Operation Market Time. Its formation marked the first time since World War II that Coast Guard personnel were used extensively in a combat environment. The squadron operated divisions in three separate areas during the period of 1965 to 1970. Twenty-six Point-class cutters with their crews and a squadron support staff were assigned to the U.S. Navy with the mission of interdicting the movement of arms and supplies from the South China Sea into South Vietnam by Viet Cong and North Vietnam junk and trawler operators. The squadron also provided 81mm mortar naval gunfire support to nearby friendly units operating along the South Vietnamese coastline and assisted the U.S. Navy during Operation Sealords. [55]

USCGC Duane (WPG-33) shelling targets in Vietnam in 1967, where they played an active role in Operation Market Time

Coast Guard Squadron Three, was a combat unit formed by the United States Coast Guard in 1967 for service during the Vietnam War.[56] Placed under the operational control of the United States Navy and based in Pearl Harbor. It consisted of five USCG High Endurance Cutters operating on revolving six-month deployments. A total of 35 High Endurance Cutters took part in operations from May 1967 to December 1971, most notably using their 5-inch guns to provide naval gunfire support missions.[57]

Often units within the Coast Guard operate under Department of the Navy operational control while other Coast Guard units remain under the Department of Homeland Security.[58]

Organization

The new Department of Homeland Security headquarters complex is on the grounds of the former St. Elizabeths Hospital in the Anacostia section of Southeast Washington, across the Anacostia River from former Coast Guard headquarters.[59]

The fiscal year 2016 budget request for the U.S. Coast Guard was $9.96 billion.[60]

USCG Districts

Districts and units

The Coast Guard's current district organization is divided into 9 districts. Their designations, district office and area of responsibility are as follows:

U.S. Coast Guard Districts
District Area District Office Area of Responsibility Note
First District Atlantic Boston, Massachusetts New England states, eastern New York and northern New Jersey 1
Fifth District Atlantic Portsmouth, Virginia Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina 5
Seventh District Atlantic Miami, Florida South Carolina, Georgia, eastern Florida, Puerto Rico,
and the U.S. Virgin Islands
7
Eighth District Atlantic New Orleans, Louisiana Western Rivers of the U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico 8
Ninth District Atlantic Cleveland, Ohio Great Lakes 9
Eleventh District Pacific Alameda, California California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah 11
Thirteenth District Pacific Seattle, Washington Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana 13
Fourteenth District Pacific Honolulu, Hawaii Hawaii and Pacific territories 14
Seventeenth District Pacific Juneau, Alaska Alaska 17

Shore establishments

The Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters building in St. Elizabeths West Campus

Shore establishment commands exist to support and facilitate the mission of the sea and air assets and Coastal Defense. U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters is located in Southeast Washington, DC. Examples of other shore establishment types are Coast Guard Sectors (which may include Coast Guard Bases), Surface Forces Logistics Center (SFLC),[61] Coast Guard Stations, Coast Guard Air Stations, and the United States Coast Guard Yard. Training centers are included in the shore establishment commands. The military college for the USCG is called the United States Coast Guard Academy[62] which trains both new officers through a four year program and enlisted personnel joining the ranks of officers through a 17 week program called Officer Candidate School (OCS). Abbreviated TRACEN, the other Training Centers include Training Center Cape May for enlisted bootcamp,[63] Training Center Petaluma[64] and Training Center Yorktown[65] for enlisted "A" schools and "C" schools, and Coast Guard Aviation Technical Training Center[66] and Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile[67] for aviation enlisted "A" school, "C" schools, and pilot officer training.

Personnel

The Coast Guard has a total workforce of 87,569.[2] The formal name for a uniformed member of the Coast Guard is "Coast Guardsman", irrespective of gender. "Coastie" is an informal term commonly used to refer to current or former Coast Guard personnel. In 2008, the term "Guardian" was introduced as an alternative but was later dropped. Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr. stated that it was his belief that no Commandant had the authority to change what members of the Coast Guard are called as the term Coast Guardsman is found in Title 14 USC which established the Coast Guard in 1915.[68][Note 3] "Team Coast Guard" refers to the four components of the Coast Guard as a whole: Regular, Reserve, Auxiliary, and Coast Guard civilian employees.[citation needed]

Commissioned officers

Commissioned officers in the Coast Guard hold pay grades ranging from O-1 to O-10 and have the same rank structure as the Navy.[70][71] Officers holding the rank of ensign (O-1) through lieutenant commander (O-4) are considered junior officers, commanders (O-5) and captains (O-6) are considered senior officers, and rear admirals (O-7) through admirals (O-10) are considered flag officers. The Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard are the only members of the Coast Guard authorized to hold the rank of admiral.[72]

The Coast Guard does not have medical officers or chaplains of its own. Instead, chaplains from the U.S. Navy, as well as officers from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps are assigned to the Coast Guard to perform chaplain-related functions and medical-related functions, respectively. These officers wear Coast Guard uniforms but replace the Coast Guard insignia with that of their own service.[73]

The Navy and Coast Guard share identical officer rank insignia except that Coast Guard officers wear a gold Coast Guard Shield in lieu of a line star or staff corps officer insignia.

Commissioned officer grade structure of the United States Coast Guard
US DoD Pay Grade O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6 O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10
NATO Code OF-1 OF-2 OF-3 OF-4 OF-5 OF-6 OF-7 OF-8 OF-9
Insignia USCG O-1 insignia.svg USCG O-2 insignia.svg US CG O3 insignia.svg USCG O-4 insignia.svg US CG O5 insignia.svg US CG O6 insignia.svg US CG O7 insignia.svg US CG O8 insignia.svg US CG O9 insignia.svg USCG O-10 insignia.svg
Title Ensign Lieutenant
(junior grade)
Lieutenant Lieutenant
commander
Commander Captain Rear admiral
(lower half)
Rear admiral Vice admiral Admiral
Abbreviation ENS LTJG LT LCDR CDR CAPT RDML RADM VADM ADM

Warrant officers

Insignia of the twenty-one different warrant officer specialties within the USCG

Highly qualified enlisted personnel in pay grades E-6 through E-9 with a minimum of eight years' experience can compete each year for appointment as warrant officers (WO). Successful candidates are chosen by a board and then commissioned as chief warrant officer two (CWO2) in one of twenty-one specialties. Over time, chief warrant officers may be promoted to chief warrant officer three (CWO3) and chief warrant officer four (CWO4). The ranks of warrant officer (WO1) and chief warrant officer five (CWO5) are not currently used in the Coast Guard. Chief warrant officers may also compete for the Chief Warrant Officer to Lieutenant Program. If selected, the warrant officer will be promoted to lieutenant (O-3E). The "E" designates over four years' active duty service as a warrant officer or enlisted member and entitles the member to a higher rate of pay than other lieutenants.[citation needed]

Warrant officer grade structure of the United States Coast Guard
US DoD Pay Grade W-2 W-3 W-4
NATO Code WO-2 WO-3 WO-4
Insignia
US CG CW3 insignia.svg
US CG CW3 insignia.svg
US CG CW4 insignia.svg
Title Chief warrant officer 2 Chief warrant officer 3 Chief warrant officer 4
Abbreviation CWO-2 CWO-3 CWO-4

Enlisted personnel

Enlisted members of the Coast Guard have pay grades from E-1 to E-9 and also follow the same rank structure as the Navy. Enlisted members in pay grades of E-4 and higher are considered petty officers and follow career development paths very similar to those of Navy petty officers.[citation needed]

Petty officers in pay grade E-7 and higher are chief petty officers and must attend the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy, or an equivalent Department of Defense school, in order to be advanced to pay grade E-8. The basic themes of the school are:

  • Professionalism
  • Leadership
  • Communications
  • Systems thinking and lifelong learning

Enlisted rank insignia is also nearly identical to Navy enlisted insignia. The Coast Guard shield replacing the petty officer's eagle on collar and cap devices for petty officers or enlisted rating insignia for seamen qualified as a "designated striker". Group Rate marks (stripes) for junior enlisted members (E-3 and below) also follow Navy convention with white for seaman, red for fireman, and green for airman. In a departure from the Navy conventions, all petty officers E-6 and below wear red chevrons and all chief petty officers wear gold.[citation needed]

Enlisted and non-commissioned officer grade structure of the United States Coast Guard
Note: Crossed anchors in the graphics indicate a rating of Boatswain's Mate
U.S. DoD Pay grade E-1 E-2 E-3 E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9
NATO Code OR-1 OR-2 OR-3 OR-4 OR-5 OR-6 OR-7 OR-8 OR-9
Insignia USCG SR.svg USCG SA.svg USCG SM.svg USCG-PO3.png
USCG PO3.svg
USCG-PO2.png
USCG PO2.svg
Insignia of a United States Coast Guard petty officer first class.svg
USCG PO1.svg
USCG CPO Collar.png
USCG CPO.svg
USCG SCPO Collar.png
USCG SCPO.svg
USCG MCPO Collar.png
USCG MCPO.svg
USCG MCPO Collar.png
USCG CMC.svg
USCG MCPO Collar.png
USCG MCPOCG (reserve).svg
USCG MCPOCG Collar.png
USCG MCPOCG.svg
Title Seaman recruit Seaman apprentice Seaman Petty officer third class Petty officer second class Petty officer first class Chief petty officer Senior chief petty officer Master chief petty officer Command master chief petty officer Deputy master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard or
Other senior enlisted leaders[74]
Master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard
Abbreviation SR SA SN PO3 PO2 PO1 CPO SCPO MCPO CMC DMCPOCG MCPOCG

Training

Officer training

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy is a four-year service academy located in New London, Connecticut. Approximately 200 cadets graduate each year, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as an ensign in the Coast Guard. Graduates are obligated to serve a minimum of five years on active duty. Most graduates are assigned to duty aboard Coast Guard cutters immediately after graduation, either as Deck Watch Officers (DWOs) or as Engineer Officers in Training (EOITs). Smaller numbers are assigned directly to flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida or to shore duty at Coast Guard Sector, District, or Area headquarters units.[citation needed]

In addition to the Academy, prospective officers, who already hold a college degree, may enter the Coast Guard through Officer Candidate School (OCS), also located at the Coast Guard Academy. OCS is a 17-week course of instruction that prepares candidates to serve effectively as officers in the Coast Guard. In addition to indoctrinating students into a military lifestyle, OCS provides a wide range of highly technical information necessary to perform the duties of a Coast Guard officer.[citation needed]

Graduates of OCS are usually commissioned as ensigns, but some with advanced graduate degrees may enter as lieutenants (junior grade) or lieutenants. Graduating OCS officers entering active duty are required to serve a minimum of three years, while graduating reserve officers are required to serve four years. Graduates may be assigned to a cutter, flight training, a staff job, or an operations ashore billet. OCS is the primary channel through which the Coast Guard enlisted grades ascend to the commissioned officer corps. Unlike the other military services, the Coast Guard does not have a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.[citation needed]

Lawyers, engineers, intelligence officers, military aviators holding commissions in other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces requesting interservice transfers to the Coast Guard, graduates of maritime academies, and certain other individuals may also receive an officer's commission in the Coast Guard through the Direct Commission Officer (DCO) program. Depending on the specific program and the background of the individual, the course is three, four or five weeks long. The first week of the five-week course is an indoctrination week. The DCO program is designed to commission officers with highly specialized professional training or certain kinds of previous military experience.[citation needed]

Recruit training

Recruit companies visiting Arlington National Cemetery for their one day of off-base liberty, which is their only break in an eight-week boot camp at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, New Jersey

Newly enlisted personnel are sent to eight weeks of recruit training at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in Cape May, New Jersey. New recruits arrive at Sexton Hall and remain there for three days of initial processing which includes haircuts, vaccinations, uniform issue, and other necessary entrance procedures. During this initial processing period, the new recruits are led by temporary company commanders. These temporary company commanders are tasked with teaching the new recruits how to march and preparing them to enter into their designated company. The temporary company commanders typically do not enforce any physical activity such as push ups or crunches. When the initial processing is complete, the new seaman recruits are introduced to their permanent company commanders who will remain with them until the end of training. There is typically a designated lead company commander and two support company commanders. The balance of the eight-week boot camp is spent in learning teamwork and developing physical skills. An introduction of how the Coast Guard operates with special emphasis on the Coast Guard's core values is an important part of the training.

The current nine Recruit Training Objectives are:

  • Self-discipline
  • Military skills
  • Marksmanship
  • Vocational skills and academics
  • Military bearing
  • Physical fitness and wellness
  • Water survival and swim qualifications
  • Esprit de corps
  • Following graduation from recruit training, most members are sent to their first unit while they await orders to attend advanced training in Class "A" Schools. At "A" schools, Coast Guard enlisted personnel are trained in their chosen rating; rating is a Coast Guard and Navy term for enlisted skills synonymous with the Army's and Marine Corps' military occupation codes (MOS) and Air Force's Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC). Members who earned high ASVAB scores or who were otherwise guaranteed an "A" School of choice while enlisting may go directly to their "A" School upon graduation from Boot Camp.[citation needed]

    Civilian personnel

    The Coast Guard employs over 8,577 civilians in over two hundred different job types including Coast Guard Investigative Service special agents, lawyers, engineers, technicians, administrative personnel, tradesmen, and federal firefighters.[2][75] Civilian employees work at various levels in the Coast Guard to support its various missions.[citation needed]

Equipment

Cutters

USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750), the first Legend-class national security cutters

The Coast Guard operates 243 Cutters,[14] defined as any vessel more than 65 feet (20 m) long, that has a permanently assigned crew and accommodations for the extended support of that crew.[76]

  • National Security Cutter (WMSL): Also known as the "Legend"-class, these are the Coast Guard's latest class of 418-foot (127 m) military defense maritime ship. At 418 ft. these are the largest USCG military cutters in active service. One-for-one Legend-class ships are replacing individually decommissioned 1960s Hamilton-class high endurance cutters. A total of eight were authorized and budgeted; as of 2015 three are in service, and three are under construction. In 2016 a ninth National Security Cutter was authorized by Congress.
  • High Endurance Cutter (WHEC): The 378-foot (115 m) Hamilton-class cutters were commissioned in the late 1960s. Missions include law enforcement, search and rescue, and military defense. This aged class of 12 are being individually decommissioned and replaced on a one-for one basis by the new Legend-class National Security Cutters.
USCGC Thetis (WMEC-910), the tenth Famous-class medium endurance cutters
  • Medium Endurance Cutter (WMEC): These are mostly the 210-foot (64 m) Reliance-class, and the 270-foot (82 m) Famous-class cutters, although the 283-foot (86 m) Alex Haley also falls into this category. Primary missions are law enforcement, search and rescue, and military defense.
  • Polar-class icebreaker (WAGB): There are three WAGB's used for icebreaking and research though only two, the heavy 399-foot (122 m) Polar Star and the newer medium class 420-foot (130 m) USCGC Healy (2), are active.[77][78][79][80] Polar Sea is located in Seattle, Washington but is not currently in active service. The icebreakers are being replaced with new heavy icebreakers under the Polar icebreaker program.
  • USCGC Mackinaw: A 240-foot (73 m) heavy icebreaker built for operations on the Great Lakes.
  • USCGC Eagle: A 295-foot (90 m) sailing barque used as a training ship for Coast Guard Academy cadets and Coast Guard officer candidates. She was originally built in Germany as Horst Wessel, and was seized by the United States as a prize of war in 1945.[81][82]
  • Seagoing Buoy Tender (WLB): These 225-foot (69 m) ships are used to maintain aids to navigation and also assist with law enforcement and search and rescue.
  • Coastal Buoy Tender (WLM): The 175-foot (53 m) Keeper-class coastal buoy tenders are used to maintain coastal aids to navigation.
USCGC Raymond Evans (WPC-1110), the tenth Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter
  • Sentinel-class cutter (WPC): The 154-foot (47 m) Sentinel-class, also known by its program name, the "Fast Response Cutter"-class and is used for search and rescue work and law enforcement.
  • Bay-class icebreaking tug (WTGB): 140-foot (43 m) icebreakers used primarily for domestic icebreaking missions. Other missions include search and rescue, law enforcement, and aids to navigation maintenance.[83]