Coast Guard: A Timeline
Congress authorized construction of 10 cutters
for a Revenue Marine Service. From then until
1798, when the Navy was reorganized, the Revenue
Marine served as the nation's only naval force.
Revenue Marine Service cooperated with the Navy
in fighting French privateers.
1808 The Revenue Marine
Service was made responsible for enforcing President
Thomas Jefferson's embargo closing U.S. ports
to European trade.
authorized revenue cutters to protect United
States merchant vessels against piracy, and to
seize vessels engaged in slave trading.
Revenue Marine began its first winter cruising to
aid seafarers and ships in distress.
authorized the use of public vessels to cruise
the coast in rough weather and help navigators in
cutter Harriet Lane fired the first shot
from any vessel in the Civil War.
Revenue Marine Service was renamed the Revenue
Lifesaving Service was established as a branch of
the Revenue Cutter Service.
1876 The School of
Instruction of the Revenue Cutter Service was
established near New Bedford, Massachusetts. (It
became the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1915.)
Lifesaving Service became an independent bureau
of the Department of the Treasury.
cutter McCulloch sent the first news of
the U.S. victory over the Spanish fleet at Manila
Revenue Cutter Service and Lifesaving Service
were combined as the United States Coast Guard.
World War I
1917, April 6 The
Coast Guard was ordered to serve as part of the
United States Navy. During the war, the Coast
Guard was responsible for convoying cargo ships
and screening transports.
1917, September 26 The cutter Tampa,
bound for England from Gibraltar, disappeared
with a great explosion believed to have been
caused by a torpedo. The entire crew of 111
coastguardsmen and 4 navy men was lost.
In proportion to its strength, the Coast Guard
suffered greater losses in the war than any of
the other United States armed forces.
Lighthouse Department of the Department of Commerce was transferred to the Coast Guard.
1939 The Coast Guard Auxiliary
World War II
The Coast Guard served as a
specialized branch of the U.S. Navy and was
responsible for handling and stowing explosives
and other dangerous cargoes, and for protecting
vessels and port facilities from fire,
negligence, or damage. The Coast Guard also
furnished weather reports, provided cutters for
convoy duty, manned its own vessels as well as
many of the Army and Navy, took part in Pacific
operations, and developed beach-landing methods
for the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944.
1941 The Coast
Guard Reserve was established.
Bureau of Marine Inspection was transferred from
the Department of Commerce to the Coast Guard.
1942 The Coast Guard Women's
Reserve, also known as the SPARS, was created.
icebreaker Mackinaw made the first
winter trip through the Soo Locks.
cutters Storis, Bramble, and Spar
became the first U.S. ships to complete a trip
through the Northwest Passage.
From 1965 to 1972, 52 Coast Guard
cutters patrolled the coastal waters of South
Vietnam to prevent the flow of Communist troops
and equipment from North Vietnam to South
1967 The Coast
Guard was transferred from the Treasury
Department to the Department of Transportation.
passed the Ports and Waterways Act, directing the
Coast Guard to establih and enforce regulations
governing the construction of oil tankers and
other ships carrying polluting substances in U.S.
waters. The act also authorized the Coast Guard
to develop vessel traffic control systems to help
prevent accidents in crowded harbors and
1976 The Coast
Guard Academy admitted women for the first time.
2003 The Coast
Guard was transferred from the Department of
Transportation to the Department of Homeland
World War I
Department of Commerce
World War II
Department of Transportation
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