Coast Guard Birthday: A Few Facts About This Armed Force

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US Coast Guard
U.S. Coast Guard.

It's Aug. 4, 2021, the 231st birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard, one of America's six armed forces. Tasked with protecting the public, environment and the nation's economic interests in its waterways or international waters, the Coast Guard's origins date back to 1790.

One of the oldest organizations of the federal government, today Coast Guard is equipped with sophisticated and effective technology to combat crimes on the water and at our ports.


According to, the origin of the U.S Coast Guard was in 1790. But it was then known as the Revenue Marine. Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the Treasury, founded the Revenue Marine to enforce federal tariff and trade laws. Its task also included the prevention of smuggling.

Though it later became known as the Revenue Cutter Service, the Coast Guard got its current name in 1915, after Congress merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the Life-Saving Service. By 1939, Coast Guard also began maintaining the country's aids to maritime navigation, including operating the nation's lighthouses.

In 1946, the organization further expanded after Congress permanently transferred the Commerce Department's Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to the Coast Guard. Thus, merchant marine licensing and merchant vessel safety came directly under the purview of the Coast Guard.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security took over its jurisdiction following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, during wartime, the president can transfer their assets to the Department of the Navy.


1) Two official flags: Coast Guard has two official flags – the CG Standard and the CG Ensign. While the Standard is used at ceremonies, the Ensign is flown by cutters (the Coast Guard calls a vessel a cutter if it is over 65-feet long). The ensign flag is the visible symbol of law enforcement authority and is recognized globally.

2) Coast Guard Deploys: Over 241,093 Coast Guard members served during World War II. Not just the World War, the Coast Guard members have served valiantly in 17 wars and conflicts in U.S. history.

3) It's a little larger than NYPD: With just 40,500 members, the Coast Guard is only slightly larger than the NYPD. 

4) Beyond borders: Not just the coastlines of the U.S., the Coast Guard serves all over the world. It provides other countries with equipment for their maritime missions through the Foreign Military Sales portion of the Security Assistance program. Coast Guard members serve in Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, the Netherlands, the Arctic, the Antarctic, and Bahrain.

5) First female members: Today, Coast Guard may have 12.5 percent women representation. But, the first uniformed female Coast Guard members are sisters Genevieve and Lucille Baker. The twin sisters started their service in 1918. 

US Coast Guard

Photo: Pixabay

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