U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office
2703 Martin Luther King, Jr., Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20593-7031

U.S. Coast Guard Museum
Coast Guard Academy - Waesche Hall
15 Mohegan Ave
New London, CT 06320-8100

Contacting us:  U.S.C.G. Historian's Office


When originally established in 1790 Congress authorized the Coast Guard to protect the nation's revenue through enforcing tariff laws and preventing smuggling.  As the nation grew though, so did the mission-set of the nation's oldest federal sea service. 

Today the Coast Guard has eleven statutory missions (listed in order of percentage of total operating expenses):


The mission of the United States Coast Guard is to ensure our Nation's maritime safety, security and stewardship.


Service to Nation
We will serve our Nation through the selfless performance of our missions.

Duty to People
We will honor our duty to protect those we serve and those who serve with us.

Commitment to Excellence
We will commit ourselves to excellence by supporting and executing our operations in a proficient and professional manner.

The Coast Guard manages six major operational mission programs: The operational mission programs oversee 11 Missions codified in the Homeland Security Act of 2002. That act delineates the 11 missions as “homeland security” or “non-homeland security” missions. 

  1. Ports, Waterways & Coastal Security
  2. Drug Interdiction
  3. Aids to Navigation (ATON: including maintaining the nation's lighthouses, buoys & VTS; also legacy ATON missions including lightships & LORAN)
  4. Search & Rescue (SAR)
  5. Living Marine Resources
  6. Marine Safety
  7. Defense Readiness (National Security & Military Preparedness)
  8. Migrant Interdiction
  9. Maritime Environmental Protection
  10. Polar, Ice & Alaska Operations (including the International Ice Patrol)
  11. Law Enforcement (including Prohibition Enforcement History)

Homeland Security Missions: Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security; Drug Interdiction; Migrant Interdiction; Defense Readiness; and Other Law Enforcement

Non-Homeland Security Missions: Marine Safety; Search and Rescue; Aids to Navigation; Living Marine Resources; Marine Environmental Protection; and Ice Operations

Image Gallery
Nauset Life-Saving crew launching their surfboat, all wearing mixed uniforms with wading boots and cork life vests; no date, possibly post-1915 era.
US Life Saving Service, Standard "working suit"
Wallis Sands Life-Saving crew wearing "storm suits" with cork life vests, no date
Surfman Howard Daniel Browning of Station Narragansett Pier (#54), Rhode Island, wearing the  standard winter-style uniform, circa 1909
US Life Saving Service, Unidentified keeper, no date,
 standard uniform
LORAN station crew: dungarees & khakis, circa 1970
Unidentified keeper, no date,
Standard uniform
US Life Saving Service, illustration of the cork life vest, no date.
US Life Saving Service, unidentified keeper & crew, no date, standard uniforms
US Life Saving Service, Standard "storm suit," no date, with walking stick and lantern.
SPAR recruits Julie Moselsy Pole, on the left; Winifred Byrd, on the right
SPARs women's reserve during WWII
Coast Guard Archives
CBM Cecil B. Foster, O.I.C. of Coast Guard Lifeboat Station Tiana from 1942-1944
Coast Guard Archives
USCGC Sea Cloud 
Coast Guard Archives
Pioneer African American officers Joseph
Jenkins and Clarence Samuels during a
snowstorm on the deck of USS Sea Cloud, a
Coast Guard-manned vessel and the nation’s
first integrated U.S. sea service ship. 
Coast Guard Archives
Hamilton (1967)
The History and Legacy of the
United States Coast Guard Cutter
Small Harbor Cutters and AB Boats
James T. Flynn
Small Harbor Cutters and ...
US Coast Guard Small Cutters and Patrol Boats, 1915-2012
HMC James T. Flynn, Jr.
Small Cutters and Patrol ...
Sentinel Class Fast Response Cutters
James T. Flynn
Sentinel Class Fast Respo...
Admiral James C. Irwin Biography
Vice Commandant
Women in USCG History Chronology
Women and the US Coast Guard
Hispanic-Americans History Chronology
Hispanic-Americans in Coa...
Asian-Pacific History Chronology
Asian-Pacific Americans a...
African-American History Chronology
African-Americans in Coas...
Marvin J. Perrett Oral History
Coasties: My Service in the US Coast Guard, 1952-1986
Captain Richard H. Wight
The U.S. Coast Guard and the First World War
Department of Homeland Security and the First World war
Service in the Forgotten War
Scott T. Price
Service in the Forgotten War
The Forgotten Service in the Forgotten War
Scott T. Price
The Forgotten Service in ...
USCG Killed in Action in Vietnam
Killed in Action, Vietnam
“Skill, courage under enemy fire, and devotion to
duty:” Bronze Star Medal Recipient Heriberto “Eddie”
Hernandez and Coast Guard Smallboat Operations
in Vietnam
Dr. William Thiesen
Heriberto Hernandez and C...
Interview with Larry Villareal
Interviewed by CDR Peter Rascoe
Larry Villareal Interview
USCG in Vietnam Chronology
Historian's Office
USCG in Vietnam