The U.S. Coast Guard & Lighthouse Service in World War I

Please search the image and resource galleries at the bottom of the page for images, articles, documents and publications detailing the Coast Guard's involvement in World War I

The U. S. Coast Guard & U.S. Lighthouse Service in World War I

Crew of the USCGC TAMPA

    April 6th, 2017, marked the 100th anniversary of the Coast Guard’s entry into World War I and the Service’s important role in supporting the war effort.  It was on Friday, April 6th, 1917, the day Congress declared war on Germany, that the U.S. Navy’s communications center in Arlington, Virginia, transmitted the code words “Plan One, Acknowledge” to Coast Guard cutters, units and bases initiating the Coast Guard’s transfer from the Treasury Department to the Navy and placing the Service on a wartime footing.

     During the war’s nearly nineteen months, the Coast Guard and Lighthouse Service would lose almost two hundred men and five ships. These ships included two combat losses. On August 6th, 1918, U-140 sank the Diamond Shoals Lightship after her crew transmitted to shore the location of the marauding enemy submarine, but no lives were lost. However, on September 26th, 1918, after completing her convoy escort duty from Gibraltar to Milford Haven, England, Cutter Tampa was torpedoed by UB-91. The cutter sank killing all 131 persons on board, including four U.S. Navy men, sixteen Royal Navy personnel and 111 Coast Guard officers and men. It proved America’s greatest World War I naval loss of life due to combat.

    Nearly 9,000 Coast Guard men and women would participate in the war. This number included over 200 Coast Guard officers, many of whom served as warship commanders, troop ship captains, training camp commandants and naval air station commanders. In all, Coast Guard heroes received two Distinguished Service Medals, eight Gold Life-Saving Medals, almost a dozen foreign honors and nearly fifty Navy Cross Medals, dozens more than were awarded to Coast Guardsmen in World War II.


Department of Homeland Security World War I Centennial Poster Series

The U.S. Coast Guard during the First World War

Department of Homeland Security and the First World War

World War I Image Gallery
World War I Resources
A letter authored by pioneering CG aviator CAPT William Wishar, USCG (Ret.), in which he describes his experiences in developing aviation for the USCG.
Early U.S. Coast Guard Av...
Coast Guard at War, by Dr. Robert Scheina.  An overview of the USCG (and predecessor agencies) national defense history from 1790.  Published in the February 13, 1987 issue (Vol. 4-87) of Commandant's Bulletin, pp. 13-40.
Coast Guard at War (Overv...
The Gentleman Rogue of EAGLE's Family Tree; an article about German Naval Officer Felix Count von Luckner and his role in the creation of sail training with the German Navy that ultimately led to the building of the training barque HORST WESSEL (now-CGC EAGLE).
The Gentleman Rogue of EA...
Article entitled "Handling of High Explosives in War Time, Hundreds of Thousands of Tons of Ammunition Shipped from the Port of New York Without Accident -- Heroic Service of the Picked Men of the Coast Guard," by Captain Godfrey L. Carden, USCG.

Vol. 109, No. 1; Engineering and Mining Journal (January 3, 1920), pp. 17-23.
1920 High Explosives Hand...
The U.S. Coast Guard has a unique role as a military armed force with extensive peacetime missions. In nearly every U.S. Conflict, the service has been a part of wartime naval operations. The most notable occurrences were during World War I and World War II, where the entire service integrated into the Department of the Navy. Beginning with World War I, this thesis traces the Coast Guard’s development and expansion throughout the interwar period up until World War II. It examines the hearings and proceedings of the General Board of the Navy to show how Coast Guard cutters were prepared for combat. It also analyzes strategic war planning documents to show the Navy’s intent to mobilize, organize and employ the Coast Guard during war. A Master's Thesis by LCDR Nolan V. Cain, USCG.
1918-1941 - Mobilizing th...
A 2010 PowerPoint presentation developed by then-Assistant CG Historian, Christopher B. Havern, Sr. covering the history of the Coast Guard's national security mission.
USCG Combat History by Ch...
An illustrated fact sheet covering the U.S. Coast Guard's history during World War I
USCG in World War I Fact ...
The plan to mobilize the Coast Guard to operate as part of the Navy during World War I, including Mobilization Plans No. 1 & No. 2.
1917 USCG Mobilization Pl...
U.S. Navy Temporary Lightships
USN Lightships (Temporary)
History of the CGC TAMPA
Remember the Tampa!
A list of Coast Guard casualties and heroes of World War I
1918 - USCG Roll of Honor
World War I (WWI) overview PowerPoint
U.S. Coast Guard History Program
U.S. Coast Guard in World War I
Historical Chronology
USCG in World War I Chron...
U.S. Coast Guard History Program
U.S. Coast Guard in World War I
USCG in World War I
1917 Executive Order Transferring the Coast Guard to the Navy, signed by Woodrow Wilson
1917 Transfer USLHS to USN
1917 Mobilization Plan
The Coast Guard when required to operate as part of the Navy.
1917 USCG Mobilization Pl...
Hunting the Hun with the Coast Guard
by Hamilton Cochran
Hunting the Hun--USCG in ...