The Coast Guard is an amalgamation of five formerly
distinct federal services. The following timeline reflects the
establishment of those services 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.
7 August 1789: The service, eventually to be
known as the US Lighthouse Service, was established under the control of
the Treasury Department (1 Stat. L., 53).
4 August 1790: Congress authorized the
Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, to create a maritime
service to enforce customs laws (1 Stat. L. 145, 175). Alternately
known as the system of cutters, Revenue Service, and Revenue-Marine
this service was placed under the control of
the Treasury Department.
7 July 1838: Service to provide better
security of the lives of passengers on board of vessels propelled in
whole or in part by steam is established under the control of the
Justice Department (5 Stat. L., 304). This "service"
later became the Steamboat Inspection Service.
14 August 1848: Congress appropriates funds
to pay for life-saving equipment to be used by volunteer organizations
(9 Stat. L., 321, 322).
30 August 1852: Steamboat Act established
Steamboat Inspection Service under the control of the Treasury
Department (10 Stat. L., 1852).
9 October 1852: The Lighthouse Board, which
administered the nation's lighthouse system until 1 July 1910, was
organized. "This Board was composed of two officers of the Navy,
two officers of the Engineer Corps, and two civilians of high scientific
attainments whose services were at the disposal of the President, and an
officer of the Navy and of the, Engineers as secretaries. It was
empowered under the Secretary of the Treasury to "discharge all the
administrative duties" relative to lighthouses and other aids to
navigation. The Secretary of the Treasury was president of the Board,
and it was authorized to elect a chairman and to divide the coast of the
United States into twelve lighthouse districts, to each of which the
President was to assign an army or navy officer as lighthouse
18 June 1878: U.S. Life-Saving Service
established as a separate agency under the control of the Treasury
Department (20 Stat. L., 163).
5 July 1884: Bureau of Navigation established
under the control of the Treasury Department (23 Stat. L., 118).
14 February 1903: Department of Commerce and
Labor is created (32 Stat. L., 825). Bureau of Navigation and the
Steamship Inspection Service transferred to new department.
28 January 1915: President Woodrow Wilson
signed into law the "Act to Create the Coast Guard," an act
passed by Congress on 20 January, 1915 that combined the Life-Saving
Service and Revenue Cutter Service to form the Coast Guard (38 Stat. L.,
6 April 1917: With the declaration of war
against Germany the Coast Guard was transferred by Executive Order to
the control of the Navy Department.
28 August 1919: Coast Guard reverted to
Treasury Department after President Wilson signed Executive Order 3160.
30 June 1932: Steamboat Inspection Service
and Bureau of Navigation combined to form the Bureau of Navigation and
Steamboat Inspection (47 Stat. L., 415). The new agency remained under
Commerce Department control.
27 May 1936: Public Law 622 reorganizes and
changes the name of the Bureau of Navigation and Steamboat Inspection
Service to Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation (49 Stat. L.,
1380). The Bureau remained under Commerce Department control.
1 September 1938: The Maritime Service was placed under the administration of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard was then
responsible for administering the Maritime Service's training stations.
1 July 1939: Lighthouse Service became part
of the Coast Guard (53 Stat. L., 1432).
1 November 1941: President Roosevelt’s
Executive Order 8929 transferred the Coast Guard to Navy Department
28 February 1942: Executive Order 9083
transferred Bureau of Marine Inspection temporarily to the Coast Guard.
1 September 1942: The Coast Guard's administration of
Maritime Service training ended and that power was transferred to the
newly established War Shipping Administration.
1 January 1946: In compliance with Executive
Order 9666, the Coast Guard returned to Treasury Department control.
In April 1946 the Coast Guard created the Eastern,
Western, and Pacific Area commands to coordinate cases that required the
assets of more than one district.
16 July 1946: Pursuant to Executive Order
9083 and Reorganization Plan No. 3 the Bureau of Marine Inspection was
abolished and became a permanent part of the Coast Guard under Treasury
1 April 1967: Executive Order 167-81
transferred the Coast Guard from the Treasury Department to the
newly-formed Department of Transportation.
In January 1973, the Coast Guard renamed the
Eastern and Western areas to the Atlantic and Pacific areas,
1 March 2003, the Coast Guard formally transferred
from the Department of Transportation to the newly-created Department of
2004-To create unity of command in America’s
ports, better align field command structures, and improve Coast Guard
operational effectiveness, Sector Commands will be created throughout
the CG by integrating Groups, Marine Safety Offices (MSO), Vessel
Traffic Services (VTS), and in some cases, Air Stations. Sector
Commands were established by 2006.