Coast Guard men and women celebrated America’s oldest, continuous sea-going service observes its 212th birthday on Sunday. The Coast Guard, one of America’s five armed services, traces it roots to Aug. 4, 1790, when the first Congress authorized the construction of a fleet of “revenue marine” cutters to enforce the fledgling nations tariff and trade laws and protect the collection of federal revenue. The service expanded in size and responsibilities as the nation grew and today is responsible for many diverse missions; including maritime law enforcement, aiding mariners in distress, maintaining maritime navigation aids, protection of the marine environment, merchant marine licensing and merchant vessel safety, and serving as the lead maritime homeland security agency
The service received its present name in 1915 under an act of Congress when the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the Life-Saving Service.
The Coast Guard is one of the oldest organizations of the federal government and, until the Navy Department was established in 1798, served as the nation’s only armed force afloat. The Coast Guard has continued to protect the nation throughout its long history, and Coast Guardsmen have served proudly in every one of the nation’s conflicts.
Maritime homeland defense remains one of the Coast Guard’s most important functions and has received renewed emphasis since last year’s terrorist attacks. New initiatives, such as the recently awarded $17 billion Deepwater contract
and the newly commissioned Maritime Safety and Security Teams, push the nations borders farther offshore and help assure the security of its citizens.
Today, the Coast Guard Barque Eagle, America’s three-masted Tall Ship, will arrive at Otter Berth near Waterside in Norfolk at about 10 a.m.