coast guard

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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 public consultation over proposed cuts to the UK's coastguard service ended last Thursday.
The claim is that the reorganised coastguard service will actually improve levels of service, as well as saving some pounds 7.
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THE head of the Coastguard Service will quit after a vote of no confidence from staff.
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The Coastguard Service said it did not receive any Mayday or distress call from the vessel, but the alarm was raised when the ship did not return to port.
A six-week extension of public consultation to modernise the coastguard service has been welcomed by campaigners in Wales, but they say the time must be used to galvanise opposition.
CROSBY'S coastguard service had a busy Sunday responding to three calls along the Merseyside coastline.
A COASTGUARD service has recorded the highest rate of hoaxes in Britain.
The coastguard service head, who visited Milford Haven last month, called the present system "fundamentally inefficient".