Coast Guard

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The U.S. Coast Guard’s mission is to protect the public, the environment, and U.S. economic interests — in the nation’s ports and waterways, along the coast, on international waters, or in any maritime region as required to support national security.

For over two centuries the U.S. Coast Guard has safeguarded the United States’ 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.

By law, the Coast Guard has 11 missions: 

•Ports, waterways, and coastal security
•Drug interdiction
•Aids to navigation
•Search and rescue
•Living marine resources
•Marine safety
•Defense readiness
•Migrant interdiction
•Marine environmental protection
•Ice operations
•Other law enforcement

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 force 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.

The Coast Guard’s motto is “Semper Paratus,” which means “Always Ready.”

Phony Distress Call to Coast Guard Leads to 1-Year Prison Sentence

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PORTLAND, Maine — A Maine man whose phony mayday call led to a seven-hour search by the U.S. Coast Guard was sentenced Thursday to a year in prison, and federal prosecutors said they hoped the penalty sends a message to other potential pranksters. Owen Adair, 23, of Vinalhaven used a two-way radio in his pickup truck to issue a hoax call, sayin... more

Coast Guard Medically Evacuates Crewmember from Navy Destroyer

An MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell)

BOSTON — Coast Guard rescue crews medically evacuated a 23-year-old male Tuesday at approximately 10:40 p.m from USS James E. Williams, 220 miles off the coast of Chatham. Coast Guard 1st District Watchstanders received notification from Navy Fleet Forces that a crewmember had a medical condition that required immediate attention at approximate... more

Feds Add Charges to Man Who Allegedly Shot at Coast Guard Crew

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A Key Largo liveaboard accused of firing gunshots at a U.S. Coast Guard crew Sunday now faces state and federal charges that could lead to 20 years in prison. Daniel M. Szabo, 40, remained in Monroe County jail Tuesday with no bond allowed. On Monday, a Coast Guard Investigative Service agent filed a criminal complaint in federal district cour... more

A Look Back: Female Rescue Swimmer Makes Coast Guard History

Chief Petty Officer Karen Voorhees

When the motor vessel Marine Electric was caught in a winter storm in the early hours of Feb. 12, 1983, their 605-foot ship capsized, tossing 34 crewmembers into the 39-degree waters east of Chincoteague, Va. The Marine Electric radioed a mayday and soon a helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., was airborne. When the crew arrive... more

US Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Navy Conduct Joint Training Exercise

An aviation survival technician and a public affairs specialist were lowered onto the Canadian Warship HMCS Summerside for a mock medical evacuation. (U.S. Coast Guard)

BOSTON — U.S. Coast Guard crews from Southeastern New England conducted various evolutions with the Royal Canadian Navy to train and improve the inter-operability of the two nations’ militaries and surface search and rescue assets. Coast Guard Station Woods Hole, Station Provincetown, and Air Station Cape Cod and HMCS Summerside conducted homel... more

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