The US Coast Guard is the smallest of the seven uniformed services
of the United States. The duties and responsibilities of the Coast
Guard include search and rescue, marine environmental pollution
control and maintenance of intercostals and offshore aids to navigation
(ATON). It renders law enforcement duties too. There are five basic
missions of the Coast Guard. Those are- Maritime Safety, Maritime
Security, Maritime Mobility, National Defense and Protection of
the Natural Resources. The motto of this force is Semper Paratus,
which means "Always Ready."
The US Coast Guard began operating on August 4,
1790 as the Revenue Cutter Service under the Department of the Treasury.
Then it became a part of the Department of Transportation. On March
31, 2003, it came under the Department of Homeland
Security. The Coast Guard reports to the Department
of Defense in wartime as the "1st Fleet".
An act of the United States Congress instituted The US
Coast Guard in 1915. This force was the union of two serving
forces- the National Lifesaving Service and the Revenue Cutter Service.
Title 14 of the United States Code provides the legal basis for
the Coast Guard. It 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."
The US Coast Guard has its headquarters in Washington, DC. It has
a number of districts in its structure. Each district operates in
a particular region of the nation's coastline. Each district has
some large operational centers called Activities. They combine several
functions. There are smaller boat stations, which are called Stations.
Air Stations are there for aircraft operations. The Coast Guard
further designates Maritime Defense Zones for the Atlantic and Pacific
Oceans. A vice admiral is in command of each zone.
The Admiral is the Commandant of the US Coast Guard.
The service tenure of the Admiral is of 4 years. It may be renewed
for a period of additional 4 years. The Master Chief Petty Officer
(MCPO) serves as an advisor to the Admiral. He is the senior enlisted
man of the Coast Guard.