In April 1790, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton asked Congress to create a Revenue Marine service with a fleet of ten small cutters. On 4 August 1790, Congress passed Hamilton's Revenue Cutter Bill, which provided for construction of the ten armed cutters, ACTIVE being one of them.
The first ACTIVE was a 59 foot, 58 ton Topsail Schooner with a crew of 9 who operated from 1791 until 1798 and was stationed in Baltimore, MD. She was the second of the first ten original revenue cutters commissioned by President George Washington and Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton. Her assigned duties included collecting tariffs, enforcing quarantines, charting the coastline, supplying lighthouses, and enforcing trade embargos.
The second ACTIVE was a 98 ton Schooner stationed in New York, NY and purchased in1807 and served until 1817. She was one of 16 cutters cooperating with the U. S. Navy during the War of 1812, assisting the Navy Flotilla operating out of New London, Connecticut, now home of the U. S. Coast Guard Academy. Following the war of 1812, the cutter engaged pirate and slave ships.
The third ACTIVE was a 38 ton sailing vessel purchased in Baltimore, MD in 1816 and served primarily on the Chesapeake Bay. The ACTIVE was part of the Revenue Cutter Service's efforts to suppress slave trade and piracy. Interestingly enough, this ACTIVE overlapped active duty service with the previous ACTIVE. She was unfortunately broken and blown aground in 1825 waiting for repairs.
The fourth ACTIVE was built in 1843 and served on Lake Ontario out of Sackets Harbor, NY until 1847.
The fifth ACTIVE was commissioned on 11 September 1856 and served as an inspector tender for the Second Lighthouse District until 1866, when she was sold.
The sixth ACTIVE was a 90 foot, 120 ton Schooner commissioned in 1867. She was one of the last strictly sail powered cutters built for the Revenue Cutter Service and served out of New Bedford, MA and sold in 1875.
The seventh ACTIVE was the first member of an entire class of cutters, one of the longest lasting classes in Coast Guard history. She was 125 feet long, 230 tons and sailed with a crew of twenty. She was built during Prohibition to combat rumrunners but the entire class was reassigned to combat duty during World War II. She served as a convoy escort in the Caribbean and on the Greenland-Iceland patrols throughout World War II. She was decommissioned in California in 1962 after 36 years of distinguished service.
The current Coast Guard Cutter ACTIVE is the eighth Coast Guard vessel to bear its proud name. She was launched at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin on July 31, 1965 and officially Commissioned as a Coast Guard Cutter on September 1, 1966. ACTIVE is 210 feet long, has a 34 foot beam, displaces 1,108 tons and draws 13 feet of water. She is powered by two diesel engines with a combined 5,000 HP. Quarters are provided for up to 12 officers and 70 enlisted members. ACTIVE's cruising range is 5,000 miles at 15 knots, designed with an operating endurance of about 30 days. At top speed of 18 knots, ACTIVE has an approximate range of 2,200 miles. ACTIVE's armament consists of a 25 mm gun on the forecastle and 50 caliber machine guns that can also be mounted on the forecastle, bridge or fantail. ACTIVE has two small boats for law enforcement and a flight deck allowing for the deployment of a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin or MH-65 HITRON Helicopter. In 2013, the crew celebrated her 48th Birthday.
USCGC ACTIVE has received several awards in past years for her outstanding service to the nation and the maritime community, including oil spill clean ups in Prince William Sound, Alaska during the EXXON VALDEZ oil spill, migrant interdiction, and counter drug operations.