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.
- Ports, Waterways & Coastal Security
- Drug Interdiction
- Aids to Navigation (ATON: including maintaining the nation's lighthouses, buoys & VTS; also legacy ATON missions including lightships & LORAN)
- Search & Rescue (SAR)
- Living Marine Resources
- Marine Safety
- Defense Readiness (National Security & Military Preparedness)
- Migrant Interdiction
- Maritime Environmental Protection
- Polar, Ice & Alaska Operations (including the International Ice Patrol)
- 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