The US Coast Guard
The US Coast Guard is the result of the merger between the Revenue Cutter Service, the Lighthouse Service, the Steamboat Inspection Service, the Bureau of Navigation, and the Lifesaving Service. The Coast Guard has been performing maritime services since the colonial era and was officially formed on August 4th, 1790 to enforce maritime taxes and trade laws and to prevent smuggling.
The early duties of the Coast Guard were to tend to lighthouses, and care for lightships. The Coast Guard also provided law enforcement through: intercepting unreported trade cargo (to ensure that taxes on goods had been paid), and preventing piracy. The Coast Guard also enforced the law by apprehending contraband such as: slaves being transported, drugs, and during prohibition—liquor.
Since the early 1800s, the Coast Guard was responsible for environmental protection duties. The Guard has protected the US against illegal forestry, seal fur trapping, sea sponge collection, and in recent decades the Coast Guard has formed a National Strike Force to handle oil spills.
The US Coast Guard is responsible for safety in US waterways through governing boat safety, patrolling the waters for illegal immigrants traveling unsafely, and commanding search and rescue missions.
The Coast Guard has provided military support in nearly every war since its formation in 1789. In the late 1700s, when the US Navy was dissolved, the US Coast Guard remained and is America’s most enduring, diverse maritime agency.