Coast Guard Anniversary

Did You Know … ?

Caost-Guard-headThe U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is one of the more visible branches of our national defense, with their signature cutters and orange helicopters being easily identifiable to most Americans. A part of the Department of Homeland Security, the branch has been moved, re-named, and its mission re-written several times throughout its 224 years.

In honor of the USCG’s birthday on August 4th, we take a look at some of the more notable moments in its long and impressive history.

  • 1785 – The Massachusetts Humane Society is founded and comes up with the pioneering concept of shore-based structures that can be used by shipwrecked mariners who are able to make it to land.
  • 1789 – The United States Lighthouse Establishment is created as part of the federal government. It is only the ninth law passed by the newly created U.S. Congress.
  • 1798 – The Revenue Marine is created with the mission of protecting the United States’ maritime and commercial interests.
  • 1798 – The Revenue Marine sees its first action in the Quasi-War with France, serving as America’s maritime fighting force until a proper Navy can be built.
  • 1830s – The service is ordered to cruise the coasts in search of those in distress.
  • 1848 – Congress passes an appropriation for $10,000 to allow for “the better preservation of life and property from shipwrecks.”
  • 1852 – The Steamboat Act is revised and improved the laws governing marine inspection. It becomes the basis for today’s Coast Guard marine safety program.
  • 1878 – The United States Life-Saving Service is created and becomes a federal agency, taking over the roles of helping boats and sailors in distress.
  • 1915 – Congress creates the Coast Guard by merging the Revenue Cutter Service and Life-Saving Service into one military agency. The law stipulates that, upon the declaration of war or when the President directs, the Coast Guard will operate under the authority of the Department of the Navy.
  • 1920s – With prohibition the law of the land, the Coast Guard adds fighting the “Rum Wars” as its primary mission, dedicating most of its time and effort to stopping bootleggers trying to bring alcohol into the country by boat.
  • 1939 – The Lighthouse Service, which was part of the Treasury Department, is transferred to the Coast Guard by executive order.
  • 1942 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order #9083, which puts merchant marine licensing and merchant vessel safety under the service’s purview. This change is made permanent in 1946.
  • 1942 -- Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro becomes the first (and, to date, only) Medal of Honor recipient, receiving the award posthumously due to his actions at the Matanikau River, Guadalcanal on Sept. 27 of that year. 
  • 1967 – President Lyndon B. Johnson orders the Coast Guard to be moved from the Department of Treasury, where it has been since its founding in 1790, to the newly-created Department of Transportation.
  • 2001 – In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the service is once again moved, this time to the newly-created Department of Homeland Security. 
  • 2012 – The USCG responds to 19,790 search and rescue cases, saves 3,560 lives and more than $77 million in property.

Congratulations to the Coast Guard on 224 years of keeping our shores, ships, and sailors safe!


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