US Coast Guard gives special 226th birthday message

 (AP, File)

As the U.S. Coast Guard celebrated its 226th birthday on Thursday, it released a special message saying, "We are unified and we are focused."

Historians said the first U.S. Congress approved building 10 vessels to enforce tariff and trade laws and prevent smuggling, among other duties. The small fleet would ultimately grow to nearly 2,000 boats and cutters along with nearly 200 aircraft.

The message from Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft also read, "Desperate people are fleeing and rule of law is under attack in our neighboring nations – so far more than 33,000 children have been apprehended crossing our Southwest border. Last year, we conducted the most aggressive campaign in our history to combat those criminals where they are most vulnerable – at sea. We are on pace to remove record volumes of cocaine this year, and I am proud to say that we have already removed 245 metric tons of cocaine and nearly 400 smugglers. The best Coast Guard in the world continues to meet this rising threat to our national security and health of our citizens."

The Coast Guard also conducted more than 17,000 search and rescue missions in 2014, saving more than 3,000 lives.

Zukunft said the Coast Guard was working with government and industry leaders to improve commerce and safety, noting that 90 percent of global commerce takes place at sea.

He concluded, "The best Coast Guard the world has ever seen is proudly marking its 226th year. As America expects and deserves, we remain Semper Paratus."