coast guard

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Related to Coastgaurd: National Guard, Coast Guard Academy

coast guard,

special naval force assigned to seaboard duties. Its primary responsibilities usually consist in suppressing contraband trade and aiding vessels in distress. The British coast guard was established just after the Napoleonic Wars for the purpose of preventing smuggling. When the Coast Guard Act of 1856 put this task under the direction of the admiralty, the British coast guard was reorganized to perform coast-watching and lifesaving duties. In the United States a coast guard was formed in 1915 when an act of Congress combined the Revenue Cutter Service with the Life Saving Service. The cutter service had been established by Congress in 1790, at the suggestion of Alexander Hamilton, to prevent smuggling; until the creation of the navy in 1798 it was the only U.S. armed service afloat. The Life Saving Service developed some years later. The U.S. Coast Guard subsequently absorbed the Lighthouse Service (1939) and the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation (1942). In peacetime the Coast Guard is under the jurisdiction (since 2003) of the Dept. of Homeland Security; in wartime, and for such other periods as the president may direct, it is under the control of the navy. In addition to its rescue and antismuggling activities, the service enforces navigation rules and maintains jurisdiction over the regulations concerning the construction and equipment of merchant ships and over the licensing of merchant marine officers and seamen. It also operates and maintains weather ships, an ice patrol in the N Atlantic, and various navigational aids, including lighthouses, lightships, buoys, and loran stations. The Coast Guard Academy, for the training of officers, is located in New London, Conn.


See studies by M. F. Willoughby (1957), H. R. Kaplan (1972), and G. Gurney (1973).

coast guard

[′kōst ‚gärd]
A naval force which guards a coast and ensures the order, safety, and effective operation of traffic on the coastal waters.
References in periodicals archive ?
A Coastgaurd helicopter also attended but the pilot of the Piper PA-28 and the passengers were already dead.
Members of the Coastgaurd rescue team who searched for the missing teenagers last weekend joined with members of the local GAA club and Down ladies to form a guard of honour at the gates.
A helicopter, tracker dogs and the coastgaurd joined the frantic search for the blond- haired children.
Forth coastgaurd worker Bob Bruce said: "Usually at this time of year we can expect something like 50 jobs to do with Cramond Island.
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And a yacht had to be rescued by coastgaurds off the island of Lewis.
On land, floods and gale force winds have caused transport chaos and cut off power for thousands while at sea coastgaurds have been at full stretch dealing with several stricken ships.