Fast Facts: U.S. Coast Guard

The following is a quick look at the United States Coast Guard:


• The U.S. Coast Guard has five operational goals: maritime safety, national defense, maritime security, mobility and the protection of natural resources.

• The Coast Guard was officially transferred to the Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003. Prior to that date, the Coast Guard was part of the Department of Transportation.

• The Coast Guard (and its predecessor agencies) have, at times, fallen under the auspices of the Departments of the Treasury, Navy, Commerce, Transportation and Homeland Security.

• The Coast Guard's motto is "Semper Paratus" — "Always Ready"

• The commandant of the Coast Guard directs the policy and administration of the Coast Guard under the general supervision of the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard's only full, four-star admiral, the commandant serves as the principal advisor to the secretary regarding service matters.

• The commandant provides immediate direction to headquarters units, though he is not actually the commanding officer of headquarters — that responsibility falls to the chief of staff.

• The Coast Guard is divided into two areas, Atlantic and Pacific. Each area commander is under the direction of the commandant.  The two areas are subdivided into a number of districts, whose commanders report to the area commanders.

• Congress authorized the building of ten boats to establish a "fleet of cutters" — forbearer of the Coast Guard — on August 4, 1790.

• Total operating expenses for fiscal year 2002: $3,382,800,000


• Total Active Duty: 39,000
• Selected Reserve: 7,800
• Enlisted: 31,000
• Officer: 6,000
• Chief Warrant Officer: 1,300
• Full-time Permanent Civilian: 6,000

Coast Guard Activity on an Average Day

Assist 192 people in distress
Protect $2.8 million in property
Interdict 14 illegal migrants at sea
Conduct 109 search and rescue cases
Seize $9.6 million worth of illegal drugs
Educate 502 people in boating safety courses
Respond to 20 oil and hazardous chemical spills
Conduct 19 maritime security boardings

Source: U.S. Coast Guard and Global