2021 Budget Overview

T H E  C O M M A N D A N T
of the United States Coast Guard

As we have for 230 years, the United States Coast Guard continues to address emerging national priorities in the Homeland and across the globe– saving those in peril, thwarting illicit and coercive maritime activities, and fostering economic prosperity and environmental stewardship. Demand for Coast Guard services has never been higher, and I am extremely proud of the mission excellence we delivered to the Nation in 2019. We surged our forces in response to natural disasters around the world – including the devastating impacts to the Northern Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian - saving lives and providing leadership in times of crisis. We employed new capabilities and techniques, including the use of unmanned aerial systems, to combat transnational criminal organizations who use narco-submarines and other illicit craft to smuggle drugs and contraband destined for U.S. soil. We deployed two National Security Cutters, our flagship capability, to the Indo-Pacific Theater to support Department of Defense objectives and build partner-nation capacity in the region. We continued to work across government and the maritime industry to keep pace with the ever-evolving cyber domain and address cyber risks to critical infrastructure. Once again, we sent our aging icebreakers to the Arctic and Antarctic to serve as the Nation’s primary presence in the Polar Regions. Throughout 2019, whenever and wherever the nation needed its Coast Guard, we were there.

The Coast Guard provides exceptional service to the American taxpayer, but increasing mission demands and constrained resource levels continue to challenge Service readiness for both steady-state missions and contingency operations. The strong support we received in our Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Enacted Budget enabled us to begin addressing our long-standing readiness gap. To sustain that momentum, the FY 2021 Budget priorities directly reflect our intense and continued focus on READINESS. While our new assets provide the Coast Guard with remarkable capability, we must ensure we can properly train, equip, and sustain the workforce, information technology systems, and shore infrastructure necessary to operate and maintain these assets. Such investments are essential mission-enablers, ensuring our operational success today and revolutionizing the way we conduct operations in the future.

A mission-ready total workforce is the cornerstone of our success, and it is my absolute highest priority to provide our workforce with the tools, resources, and policies that will enable them to succeed wherever they serve. FY 2019 proved to be an impactful year in the development of personnel management policies that advance inclusion and diversity and that improve the support we provide our members. We will continue to develop and implement strategies and solutions that maximize readiness and enable us to recruit, train, and retain a workforce that is representative of the American public the Coast Guard serves. We remain committed to thinking differently, challenging the status quo, and creating an environment that not only attracts the best of America’s diverse talent, but also provides a rich experience that makes the Coast Guard an employer of choice in a competitive marketplace for talent.

Our FY 2021 President’s Budget request is a direct reflection of our continued focus and commitment to restoring Coast Guard readiness. It is my absolute highest priority to provide our workforce with the tools, resources, and policies that will enable them to succeed wherever they serve. With the continued support of Congress, we will continue to live up to our motto: Semper Paratus – Always Ready.

Semper Paratus
Admiral Karl L. Schultz



The iconic angled racing stripes that mark the bow of every U.S. Coast Guard vessel, first adopted in 1967, are now recognized around the world. These stripes represent a global maritime security regime, which relies upon the rule of law, good governance, and respect for international laws and norms on the high seas. For more than 50 years, coast guards have maintained this regime. The U.S. Coast Guard is a proud model for professional maritime behavior worldwide, alongside partner coast guards who uphold these peaceful and humanitarian values.

As a maritime nation, America’s security and prosperity are inextricably linked to our unfettered access to major oceans, inland rivers, deepwater ports, and other connecting waterways. Our continued national and economic security relies on open trade and a strong rules-based order. To sustain its strength, America must protect its borders from unlawful intrusion and defend sovereignty while safeguarding and facilitating commerce.

The maritime environment in which we operate is becoming increasingly complex. Greatpower competition, transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), rapid technological advancements and cyber threats, and complex natural disasters are straining global systems for maritime governance. Rival powers are challenging international order and TCOs are eroding regional stability by weakening government institutions and terrorizing peaceful citizens. Cyber criminals are attacking digital infrastructure and subverting the protections historically provided by geographic borders. Technology is changing the character of maritime operations, improving efficiency and safety while introducing new risks. At the same time, catastrophic weather events are increasing in severity and scale, with enormous consequences to our coastal communities and global supply chains.



The Coast Guard is an agile and adaptive force, with the ability to rapidly shift among many missions to meet national priorities during steady state and crisis operations.

Maximize Readiness Today and Tomorrow


The Coast Guard’s top priority is Service readiness. The increasing global complexity and expanding demand for Coast Guard services necessitates the best people, modern technology, resilient infrastructure, and highly-capable assets. With a clear understanding of the fiscal environment, we will support our people, invest in mission-enabling technologies, and modernize our assets to enhance our readiness for the challenges of today while preparing for the threats of tomorrow.

Address the Nation's Complex Maritime Challenges


As the Nation’s unique instrument across the full spectrum of maritime operations, the Coast Guard cooperates and builds capacity to counter maritime threats. From education and regulation, to enforcement and lethal force where necessary, the Coast Guard has a range of capabilities to influence behavior in the increasingly complex maritime domain.

Deliver Mission Excellence Anytime, Anywhere


Our greatest value to the Nation resides in our ability to rapidly shift among our missions to meet national priorities during steady state and crisis. We will align all of our Service’s initiatives to promote organizational efficiency, agility, and effectiveness – delivering excellence anytime, anywhere.



Since 1790, the Coast Guard has adapted its people, assets, and capabilities in response to emerging national demands and international challenges. The Coast Guard is a federal law enforcement agency, a regulatory body, a first responder, a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, and at all times a military service and branch of the Armed Forces of the United States.

The Maritime Law Enforcement mission program seeks to protect America’s maritime borders, defend the Nation’s maritime sovereignty, facilitate legitimate use of the waterways, and suppress violations of U.S. Federal law on, under, and over the seas to include illegal migration and Transnational Organized Crime.

The Marine Transportation System Management mission program seeks to ensure a safe, secure, and environmentally sound waterways system. The Coast Guard works in concert with other Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial agencies, the marine industry, maritime associations, and the international community to safeguard the efficient movement of $5.4T in annual economic activity and 30.8 million jobs across the Nation’s Marine Transportation System.



The Coast Guard’s FY 2021 President’s Budget request remains focused on efforts to restore Service readiness through purposeful investment in the technology, assets, and support needed to meet existing requirements and emerging mission demands with a resilient and capable workforce. It reflects meaningful, risk-informed choices that leverage limited resources to improve operational outcomes, address deferred maintenance backlogs, attract and retain a talented and diverse workforce, and recapitalize and modernize IT systems and infrastructure to address 21st century threats.


Total Budget Request

Net Discretionary Funding
Mandatory, Fees, & Trust Funds

Net Discretionary Funding


81.8% - $8,377,740
Operations & Support (O&S)
16.0% - $1,637,091
Procurement, Construction, & Improvements (PC&I)
2.1% - $215,787
Medicare-Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund (MERCHF)
0.1% - $5,276
Research & Development (R&D)