Coast Guard

Seal of U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard. Via

The U.S. Coast Guard is an independent uniformed service, with its own Academy, whose function in peacetime is to ensure the safety and security of traffic in American waters.  All of its ships above 65 feet in length, except lightships, are designated as Coast Guard cutters.  Ranks are similar to those in the Navy but the insignia are distinctive (featuring shields in place of stars.)

In time of war, the Coast Guard comes under the command of the Navy.  The Roosevelt administration took this action on 1 November 1941, shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor, with Executive Order 8929. Relations between the two services was not entirely frictionless, as might be anticipated.  Coast Guard crews were nonetheless highly professional and performed their wartime duties (mostly antisubmarine patrolling) well. Some 241,093 Coast Guardsmen served during the Second World War, and 1,917 became casualties (including 574 killed in action).

In addition to antisubmarine patrol, Coast Guardsmen often crewed troop transports and landing craft. One Coast Guardsman, Douglas A. Munro, was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for deliberately exposing his landing craft to Japanese fire to divert the Japanese from a trapped Marine battalion at Guadalcanal.

Coast Guard cutters

Active class

Algonquin class

Argo class

Haida class

Treasury class


Coast Guard Historian's Office (accessed 2007-5-20)


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