Frequently Asked Questions
The Coast Guard is an amalgamation of five formerly distinct federal services. The following timeline reflects the establishment of those serviaes and when they became part of what is now the United States Coast Guard as well as changes in the organizational structure of the Coast Guard itself.
1 September 1789: Navigation law administration was placed under Secretary of the Treasury by an act of 1 September 1789 (1 Stat. 55), with local enforcement by Treasury customs officials. On 22 January 1793, the Register of the Treasury became responsible for vessel documentation and for navigation and tonnage statistics. The Bureau of Statistics was established by an act of 28 July 1866 (14 Stat. 331), to collect navigation statistics, assign numbers to merchant vessels, and publish the annual list of American merchant vessels. Pursuant to acts of 26 May 1790 (1 Stat. 122) and 3 March 1797 (1 Stat. 506), district court judges submitted requests to the Secretary of the Treasury for remission of files and penalties under the navigation laws. The Navigation Division was established in the Treasury Department in 1870 to administer the fines and penalties function. Redesignated as the Internal Revenue and Navigation Division in 1878 it was redesignated Mercantile Marine and Internal Revenue Division in 1884. It was abolished in 1887. U.S. circuit courts handled disputes between seamen and masters until 7 June 1872 when judges were authorized to appoint shipping commissioners at various ports to administer navigation laws relating to merchant seamen.