United States Coast Guard

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The U.S. Coast Guard was founded in the 1790s as part of the US Department of Treasury, but is now part of the US Department of Transportation. Its motto is Semper Paratus, "Always Ready."


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.


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.


The Coast Guard carries out five basic missions: Maritime Safety, Maritime Mobility, Maritime Security, National Defense, and Protection of Natural Resources.

Maritime Safety

Search and Rescue

Marine Safety

Recreational Boating Safety

International Ice Patrol

Maritime Mobility

Aids to Navigation

Icebreaking Services

Bridge Administration

Vessel Traffic and Waterways Management

Maritime Security

Drug Interdiction

Alien Migrant Interdiction

US Exclusive Economic Zone and Living Marine Resource

Law and Treaty Enforcement

General Maritime Law Enforcement

National Defense

General Defense Duties

Homeland Security

Port and Waterways Security

Polar Icebreaking

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").