Coast Guard celebrates 220 Years of Service to the Nation

From its genesis as the Revenue Marine, the Coast Guard has evolved to become the world’s premiere multi-mission, maritime service, conducting operations around the globe to execute its 11 missions.

“Coast Guardsmen are agile, adaptable and multi-missioned,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr. “Born as revenue cuttermen, lighthouse keepers, steamboat inspectors and surfmen, we have expanded to meet the maritime needs of our nation. As Coast Guard men and women, we share a bond of pride in our rich heritage and a common purpose to uphold our honorable traditions.”

The Coast Guard began its service to America in 1790 within the Treasury Department as the Revenue Marine, later renamed the Revenue Cutter Service. The Revenue Cutter Service joined with the US Lifesaving Service in 1915 to create the Coast Guard. The US Lighthouse Service was added to the US Coast Guard in 1939, followed by the Steamboat Inspection Service in 1946. The Coast Guard transferred from the Treasury Department to the Department of Transportation in 1967 and to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

“We are still keepers of the lights, but we also now patrol far more distant waters,” said Papp. “We readily go wherever there are important, difficult and dangerous maritime duties to be performed.”

In 1851 customs activities established a central role in monitoring trade in the Pacific Northwest and in 1854 with maritime trade flourishing in the region the Revenue Cutter Jefferson Davis was dispatched to interdict smuggling activities. The crew of the Jefferson Davis sailed into Puget Sound on September 28, 1854. The cutter’s arrival marked the first unit of the U. S. Coast Guard to be stationed in the states of Washington and Oregon.

Recently the Pacific Northwest continued its rich Coast Guard tradition by establishing the first Marine Safety and Security Team (MSST). MSSTs were created under the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) 2002 and are a part of the Department of Homeland Security’s layered strategy directed at protecting our seaports and waterways. MSSTs were created in direct response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Accordingly, every MSST designation number begins with “911.” Commissioned on July 3, 2002, MSST Seattle was the first of its kind; hence having the honor of being known as 91101.

Today Coast Guardsmen worldwide carry out five missions:

  • Maritime safety (including search and rescue)
  • Maritime mobility
  • Maritime security
  • National defense
  • Protection of natural resources

Since 1790 the Coast Guard has defended the nation’s maritime borders safely and securely and Coast Guardsmen here in the 13th Coast Guard District and abroad will continue to honor their shipmates of the past and continue to adapt to the challenges their shipmates may face in the future.