Historic Search & Rescue Index

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SEARCH & RESCUE

U.S. Coast Guard, Lighthouse Service, Revenue Cutter Service
& U. S. Life-Saving Service SAR History


A photo of the Coast Guard Flood Relief Force of 1927

The Coast Guard's "Relief Fleet" on the Mississippi River after the 1927 Flood.


Search & Rescue:

  • A list of natural disasters and other events of national significance that the Coast Guard responded to over the course of its history.  Such events include the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Mississippi River Basin flood of 1927, the 1944 Atlantic hurricane, the Mariel boatlift in 1980, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the events of 9/11/2001, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, among others.
  • Coast Guard Search & Rescue Statistics, 1964-2001  [web] [pdf]
  • Project Sea Hunt: The Coast Guard's experiments with using pigeons for search-and-rescue operations.

U.S. Life-Saving Service History


  • "Tales from the Keeper's Log": an illustrated article by Debbie Allyn Jett that describes what service in the Life-Saving Service on the Great Lakes during the late 19th Century was like as well as the terrible tragedy that occurred during a rescue by the Point Aux Barques crew on Lake Huron, April 23, 1880, in which six of the seven rescuers were killed in the line of duty, all except their Captain, Keeper Jerome Kiah.

Significant Search & Rescue Cases--Narratives, Reports, Official Documents, and First-Person Accounts


  • 2007: Rescue Swimmer AST1 Wil Milam describes in his oral history the rescue of the four-man crew of the fishing vessel Illusion from the Bering Sea in February, 2007.
  • 2006: LTJG Mark Molavi, the Command Duty Officer of PACAREA's Command Center, describes the May 2006 F/V Legend SAR case, which involved Coast Guard units, AMVER, the U.S. & Mexican navies.
  • 1980: "27 Hours in the Cold Alaska Sea." AD1 Greg King writes about the rescue of the crew of the fishing vessel Clover Leaf in April, 1980 while serving as an HC-130 crewman based at AIRSTA Kodiak.

  • 1980: Mariel, Cuba Boatlift:

  1. Historical Narrative: "Coast Guard Operations During the Cuban Exodus," a history of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift, written by VADM Benedict L. Stabile and Dr. Robert L. Scheina.

  2. Official Chronology: "Cuban Boatlift From Mariel, Cuba to Key West, Florida, Chronology from April 21, 1980 to June 30, 1980 with an after summary up to September 28, 1980."

  3. The 1980 Cuban Boatlift: Castro's Ploy -- America's Dilemma, by Captain Alex Larzelere, USCG (Ret.); (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1988).

  • 1977: "Summary of Action" for a SAR case in 1978 when HC-130H CGNR-1500 assisted in the rescue off Alaska of the crew of a ditched Navy P-3C (BuNo. 159892) on 26 October 1978.  A Soviet trawler, the Mys Sinyavin, also participated, making this a unique case of cooperation by the principal antagonists of the Cold War.
  • 1950-1977:BMCM Thomas D. McAdams' Oral History: Master Chief Boatswain's Mate Thomas McAdams describes his illustrious career in the Coast Guard, which spanned the years between 1950 and 1977.  The highly decorated McAdams is something of a legend in the Coast Guard's small boat community and among the fishermen of the Pacific Northwest.  In his remarkable career, which spanned 27 years, BMCM McAdams participated in more than 5,000 rescues and was credited with saving more than 100 lives. Click here for his biography.
  •  "In Memorum": an official Canadian commendation to Surfman Mason B. McCune and the crew of Life-Saving Station men who rescued a drowning Canadian boy in the Niagara River.

Search and Rescue & Small Boat Station Manuals, Regulations & Other Official Publications


The crew of the Vermillion Point Lifesaving Station


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Last Modified 11/17/2014