Mission of the USCG
The United States Coast Guard (USCG), was created in 1790, with Alexander Hamilton as its first leader. Under the auspices of the Department of Transportation, the USCG is tasked with enforcing all applicable federal laws on the high seas and waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
Its primary missions are three-fold:
1. National Defense,
2. Maritime Law Enforcement and
3. Maritime Safety (which includes environmental protection and search and rescue).
In conjunction with National Defense, the USCG, one of the five Armed Services of the United States under law, must keep itself constantly prepared to defend the nation in any conflict or war.
Maritime Law Enforcement includes the interdiction of drugs, contraband items, and illegal aliens, enforcement of the exclusive U.S. Economic Zone laws and regulations extending 200 miles off the U.S. and territorial coasts as well as a myriad of laws and regulations on safety issues. Unlike local law enforcement bureaus, the USCG wields federal power. As such, it has the authority to board any U.S. flag boat and conduct a search without a search warrant to ensure compliance with all U.S. regulations and safety requirements.
The USCG's objective in Maritime Safety is to minimize deaths, injuries, property loss, and environmental damage in the marine environment. Although tasked with numerous responsibilities, the mainstay of many USCG stations is assisting mariners and performing search and rescue.
The USCG has 35,000 personnel overall and maintains stations throughout the country and its cutters patrol waters throughout the world.