From the NFRW Armed Services Committee
The U.S. Coast Guard has kept our nation’s waterways safe since 1790.
Our nation’s first Congress authorized then Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton to construct ten vessels to combat smuggling and enforce tariff laws. The service was known as the “Revenue Marine.” At that time, marine tariffs made up almost 90% of the Federal revenue. After our Navy was deactivated following the Revolutionary War, the Coast Guard was our only armed maritime service for eight years until the Navy was reactivated.
The Coast Guard is unique among our military services. During peace time, it belongs to the Department of Homeland Security but can be transferred to the Department off Defense by the President when operations require their service. Daily, the Coast Guard patrols our coasts for drug smugglers, human trafficking, and both domestic and international terrorism. Because of these other duties, the Coast Guard is exempt from the Posse Comitatus Act, which bars the other services from law enforcement duties.
The Coast Guard has participated in all wars. The only Coast Guardsman decorated (posthumously) with the Medal of Honor was Douglas Albert Munro who for an act of "extraordinary heroism" during World War II.
Our Coast Guard is the 12th largest maritime service in the world. It has approximately 41,000 active-duty personnel, around 8,000 reservists, and more than 30,000 civilian auxiliary volunteers. These men and women are constantly saving lives, while also protecting our waterways.