It isn’t until you need the Coast Guard, that you actually think about what the organization does.
Search and rescue is by far the most widely known work of the Coast Guard, with the organization spending nearly $1 million of its budget in 2016 for SAR efforts. But crews do so much more than patrol the waters looking out for the safety of pleasure boaters, fishermen and all activities on the water.
Coast Guard members often risk their lives to help boaters in distress. That’s why the Coast Guard encourages all boaters to prepare for every emergency on the water and advocates safety equipment on vessels.
A friend who is a former Coast Guard officer reminds us that safe boating is the key to enjoying the water. He remembers coming upon too many situations that would have been less stressful and dire had the boats been equipped with more safety equipment.
“The Coast Guard gladly assists all those in need of help, but at the end of some of my days, I’ve thought a lot about the risk boaters put others in when they aren’t fully prepared for emergencies. Most are due to a lack of education or ‘it could never happen to me’ mentality.”
Here are a few facts you may not know about the Coast Guard (courtesy of the Coast Guard and U.S. Coast Guard Foundation):
- There are more than 40,000 active duty members of the Coast Guard.
- Has participated in every armed conflict of the United States since 1790. The Coast Guard used to be referred to as the Revenue Marine, then the U.S. Revenue Cutter Center and in 1951 merged with the U.S. Lifesaving Service to form the modern-day Coast Guard.
- It is the only military branch not to fall under the Department of Defense -- it is part of Homeland Security. With Homeland Security, the Coast Guard works on defense readiness, maritime law enforcement, migrant interdiction, ports, waterways and coastal security and drug interdiction.
What’s an “average” day look like for the Coast Guard? It is hardly what you and I would call average, but the Coast Guard:
- Launches 396 small boat missions
- Launches 164 aircraft missions, logging 324 hours
- Conducts 109 search and rescue cases
- Saves 10 lives and assists 192 people in distress
- Protects $2,791,841 in property
- Seizes 169 pounds of marijuana and 306 pounds of cocaine worth $9,589,000
- Intercepts 14 illegal migrants
- Boards 100 large vessels for port safety checks
- Responds to 20 oil or hazardous chemical spills totaling 2,800 gallons
- Services 135 aids to navigation
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