U.S. Coast Guard

2011-02-09 08:57:09

The Coast Guard is the part of the U.S. Armed Forces responsible for enforcing maritime laws, search-and-rescue operations at sea, interdictment of drugs and illegal aliens, protection of the marine environment, and protection of maritime borders. It operates as a branch of the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime but is integrated with the U.S. Navy during time of war. Organized along similar lines, the Coast Guard and navy routinely cooperate in Greenland, Iceland, and other Arctic areas. Coast Guard vessels and personnel have provided naval support in all U.S. wars, including the war against Iraq (2003).
The Coast Guard was founded in 1790, although it did not take its present name until 1915 when the Revenue Cutter Service and the Life-saving Service merged. Responsibilities of the Light House Service were transferred to the Coast Guard in 1939, and those of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation in 1946. The largest peacetime operation of the guard was during the Mariel Boatlift of 1980–81, when more than 125,000 Cuban refugees sailed from their homeland to Florida, most in crowded small craft not suited to sea voyages. Coast Guard resources were called in from bases along the East Coast, and 900 reservists were called to active duty. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, supervision of the Coast Guard was transferred in 2003 from the Department of Transportation to the newly created Department of Homeland Security.