Thursday, August 4, 2016



U.S. Revenue Cutter MASSACHUSETTS entered service 1791 Image USCG, (USCG notes one historic inaccuracy Revenue Ensign and commissioning pennant were not adopted until 1799 after the first MASSACHUSETTS left the service.)

American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies   EU VISITORS WARNING POSSIBLE COOKIES AHEAD

"In 1790, the First Congress of the United States established a small maritime law enforcement component within the Treasury Department to assist in collecting the new Nation’s customs duties. For the next eight years, this Revenue Marine (later called the Revenue Cutter Service) was the Nation’s only naval force and was soon assigned military duties. Over time, the Revenue Cutter Service merged with or absorbed other federal agencies. The Service acquired new responsibilities based upon its ability to perform them with existing assets and minimal disruption to its other duties. In some cases, the Service absorbed other agencies because their maritime responsibilities were seen as intersecting with or complementing its own. The result is today’s U.S. Coast Guard—a unique force that carries out an array of civil and military responsibilities touching every facet of the maritime environment of the United States." From Coast Guard Publication 1   Feb. 2014.

 The modern day Coast Guard evolved and continues to evolve by the absorption of unique maritime security related missions. In its earliest days some missions were actually assigned to other federal agencies often organized along para-naval lines. The most notable among these predecessor agencies were the U.S. Life Saving Service and the U.S. Light House Service. From its first founding the Revenue Marine was statutorily a part of the Navy in war time but at the moment of its founding there was no standing Navy the Revolutionary Navy having been disbanded. Despite the constitutional requirement for Congress to "maintain a navy", the new navy would not come into existence until some time after the founding of the "Revenue Marine". For a time the ten armed cutters of the "RMS" were the only armed public vessels of the United States. But while the RMS officers held naval rank and the crews held naval ratings, the service could only function under naval direction in war time because it was primarily a law enforcement agency. There early on was a reluctance to utilize military personnel in law enforcement in the United States and eventually it would become a statutory prohibition called the Posse Comitatus Act. So the "Revenue Marine" would continue as a naval auxiliary military service but would be housed in the Treasury Department vice the War or Navy Departments. The entire service or any component within it could be transferred to naval control in war or upon order of the President of the United States. 

Parallel with the development of the military / law enforcement agency known as the "Revenue Marine" other federal maritime agencies of a quasi naval character were evolving. The U.S. Light House Service evolved from the United States Lighthouse Establishment (USLHE)also serving under the treasury department and founded in 1789. Officers of the Revenue Marine served on the Light House Board.  The highly disciplined U.S. Life Saving Service was also evolving parallel with the Revenue Marine. On 28 January 1915, the service was merged by an act of Congress with the United States Life-Saving Service to form the United States Coast Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard would then go on to absorb several other federal marine safety and security related agencies including the U.S. Light House Service. 

 Many of the civil missions of these "predecessor agencies" once brought under the administration of the newly formed "U.S. Coast Guard" became not only domestic waters civil missions but also naval combat support missions. The institutional experience of the Coast Guard in saving lives through heavy surf was translated in World War Two into amphibious warfare roles involving the use of landing craft through surf. In Vietnam not only was the U.S. Coast Guard's expertise in board and search operations honed on its domestic law enforcement missions brought into play, but also the Guard provided aids to navigation services within the combat zone, again a domestic civil mission with military utility.  January 28, 2015 was the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Coast Guard name , Today August 4th, 2015 is the 225 anniversary of the founding of the Revenue Marine , considered the primary predecessor agency and long celebrated as the "Birthday" of the U.S. Coast Guard, now a 100 year old brand. 

                                            HAPPY BIRTDACOAST GUARD! 
Photos :USCG

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