The U.S. Coast Guard uses a variety of platforms to conduct its daily business. Cutters and small boats are used on the water and fixed and rotary wing (helicopters) aircraft are used in the air.
A "Cutter" is any Coast Guard vessel 65 feet in length or greater, having adequate accommodations for crew to live on board. Larger cutters (over 180 feet in length) are under control of Area Commands (Atlantic Area or Pacific Area). Cutters at or under 180 feet in length come under control of District Commands. Cutters, usually have a motor surf boat and/or a rigid hull inflatable boat on board. Polar-class icebreakers (WAGB) also carry an Arctic Survey Boat (ASB) and Landing Craft.
- Polar-Class Icebreaker (WAGB)
- High Endurance Cutter (WHEC)
- Inland Icebreaker (WAGB)
- Training Barque Eagle (WIX)
- Medium Endurance Cutter (WMEC)
- Seagoing Buoy Tender (WLB)
- Coastal Buoy Tender (WLM)
- Inland Construction Tender (WLIC)
- Icebreaking Tug (WTGB)
- River Buoy Tender (WLR)
- Patrol Boat (WPB)
- Inland Buoy Tender (WLI)
- Coastal Patrol Boat (WPB)
- Small Harbor Tug (WYTL)
There are a total of 211 aircraft in USCG inventory. This figure fluctuates operationally due to maintenance schedules. Fixed-wing aircraft (HC-130 Hercules turboprops and HU-25 Guardian jets) operate from large and small Air Stations. Rotary wing aircraft (HH-65 Dolphin and HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters) operate from flight-deck equipped Cutters, Air Stations and Air Facilities.
(Approximately 1400 - number fluctuates). All vessels under 65 feet in length are classified as boats and usually operate near shore and on inland waterways. Sizes range from 64 feet in length down to 12 feet.
- Arctic Survey Boat (ASB)
- Motor Life Boat (MLB)
- Utility Boat (UTB)
- Deployable Pursuit Boat (DPB)
- Aids to Navigation Boats (TANB/BUSL/ANB/ANB)
- Transportable Port Security Boat (TPSB)
- Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHI)
The Coast Guard carries out five basic missions: Maritime Safety, Maritime Mobility, Maritime Security, National Defense, and Protection of Natural Resources.
Search and Rescue
Recreational Boating Safety
International Ice Patrol
Aids to Navigation
Vessel Traffic and Waterways Management
Alien Migrant Interdiction
US Exclusive Economic Zone and Living Marine Resource
Law and Treaty Enforcement
General Maritime Law Enforcement
General Defense Duties
Port and Waterways Security
Protection of Natural Resources
Marine Pollution Education, Prevention, Response & Enforcement
Foreign Vessel Inspections
Living Marine Resources Protection
Marine and Environmental Science
Those who have piloted or flown in U.S. Coast Guard aircraft under official flight orders may join the /Ancient Order of the Pterodactyls ("Flying Since the World was Flat").