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Coast Guard Law Enforcement History

Including Prohibition

Two USCG patrol boats trail a liquor smuggling mother ship during Prohibition

Two Coast Guard 75-foot patrol boats trail a liquor-laden
"mother ship" outside U.S. territorial waters during Prohibition.

General Historical Information

  • "Two in the Belt: The increase in law enforcement operations in the Coast Guard is not new to the service.  The Revenue Cutter Service, predecessor to the Coast Guard, was involved in many such operations--from national defense to chasing smugglers of salt."  An article by GMCM William R. Wells, II discussing the small arms carried on board early cutters. Published originally in the Commandant's Bulletin, Issue 25-83 (December 9, 1983), pp. 14-15.

Fisheries, Living Marine Resources (US EEZ) & The Environment

Immigration Issues, Contraband & Migrant Interdiction

Prohibition/Rum War

  • Rum War At Sea, by Malcolm F. Willoughby USCGR (T), 1964 (reprinted 1989)
  • "The Day the Coast Guard Hanged a Man," an article by Captain Robert F. Barber, USCG (Ret.); provided courtesy of Jack's Joint.  The article describes the killing of Coast Guard Boatswain Sydney C. Sanderlin and Treasury Special Agent Robert K. Webster by James Horace Alderman in 1929 and Alderman's later hanging at Coast Guard Base Six in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Motorboat & Navigation Law Enforcement Duties

Official Publications (Manuals, Policy Memos, etc.)

Oral Histories & Other First-Person Accounts

  • Coast Guard veteran Joseph Etienne, who during his 30-year Coast Guard career served on Prohibition enforcement aboard the Lake-Class cutter CGC Champlain, as a surfman at a lifeboat station, participated in the invasion of Guadalcanal (he was a shipmate of Douglas Munro), and post war assignments in aids to navigation where he got to know Arnold Palmer

Haitian migrants

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Last Modified 2/5/2016