Quick, can you name all of the branches of the United States Armed Forces? The Army, Navy and Air Force are easy. But you still have two to go. The Marines … and the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is an often-overlooked branch of America’s military forces, but these men and women serve a vital function around the country and all over the world. In this shallow-water quiz, do you really think you know the U.S. Coast Guard?
After the heady days of the American Revolution, the newly born United States was a turbulent place. The nation needed a way to control its waters, and there was really no Navy of any kind. That’s when the forerunner of the Coast Guard took to the seas. Do you recall the history and purpose of the very first Coast Guard crews?
In the 1800s, the Coast Guard performed so ably that it garnered more and more missions. Congress renamed the service, gave it ever more power, and the once-tiny fleet became an increasingly important tool of the government.
These days, the Coast Guard guards America’s borders, counters criminals who use the sea as their playground, and saves lives every single day of the year. Hold your breath and plunge into the icy waters of this Coast Guard quiz now!
The modern Coast Guard falls under the control of the Department of Homeland Security. In times of war, that can change.
The Coast Guard is the smallest branch of America's military. There are about 40,000 sailors on active duty.
They're the "coasties." There are a number of unofficial terms bandied about for Coast Guard sailors, but coasties is the most common.
It's true, the Coast Guard was America's first seafaring force. Its origins go all the way back to 1790.
When the unit was first created in 1790, it was called the Revenue Marine. It wasn't offically called the "Coast Guard" until the World War I era.
The young United States needed tariffs to fund its new government. When it was first formed, the Revenue Cutter Service had one primary mission -- collecting tariffs on imported goods.
When it formed the Revenue Marine in 1790, Congress authorized the construction of 10 ships. Those ships formed the first legacy of the Coast Guard.
Altogether, the Coast Guard must protect about 95,000 miles of American shoreline, including the broad swaths of land on the east and west coasts. That's a lot of work for a unit that has roughly the same number of workers as the New York Police Department.
After 1790, the Revenue Marine earned more and more responsibilities. In 1894, it was renamed the Revenue Cutter Service, and worked directly for the Department of the Treasury.
"Semper Paratus" means "always ready." This branch's official march is a symbol of just how important these sailors are to America's national security.
Serving in the shadow of the much larger Navy and Army, people often forget about the Coast Guard. But this unit has served in all of America's wars.
In 1915, Congress combined the Revenue Cutter Service with the United States Life-Saving Service. The new organization was called … you guessed it, the Coast Guard.
Every Coast Guard vessel features a broad red slash with a blue racing stripe. The symbol was approved in the late 1960s.
On average, about half of rescue swimmer candidates drop from Coast Guard's program. Only mentally and physically superior candidates are cut out for the rigors of rescue swimming.
There were no U.S. Navy ships until 1797. So for most of the decade, the Revenue Marine was the only tool America had to beat back pirates.
They are not homebodies. The Coast Guard serves worldwide, from middle America to the ends of the Earth.
In the '60s, the USCGC Eastwind earned a bit of fame. She traveled around Antarctica and became the first cutter ever to steam all the way around the world.
Some Coast Guard sailors train to become aviation survival technicians, or rescue swimmers. These coasties endure brutal mental and physical challenges that would drown normal people, all in the name of helping people during water emergencies.
In 1918, identical twins Genevieve and Lucille Baker became the first two female members of the Coast Guard. They were just 19 years old.
The real question is, how are all of these people getting themselves into so much trouble to begin with? Every year, the Coast Guard zooms to help in around 20,000 search and rescue missions.
The United States Coast Guard Academy is located in New London, Connecticut. Each year, about 250 cadets begin their training in hopes of becoming Coast Guard officers.
Got some 50-foot swells and hurricane winds out there? Call the Coast Guard. Their mandate means they'll risk their necks to save yours.
Katrina's harrowing wind and waves killed more than 1,000 Americans. But 80 Coast Guard rescue swimmers also saved more than 33,000 people, many of whom may have perished without their assistance.
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is a civilian volunteer arm of the Coast Guard. The men and women of the Auxiliary save lives just like active duty coasties.
The USRC Vigilant was one of the first 10 ships commissioned by Congress as part of the original Revenue Marine. And as such, it was probably the first Coast Guard ship ever to take to the seas.
In the 1870s, Alaska was a wild place filled with natural resources. The Coast Guard was basically the only U.S. force in the region, essentially working to create law and order.
The United States Coast Guard Academy is the smallest of America's service academies. Its motto is, "The sea yields to knowledge."
Just before -- and during -- World War II, Sinbad, a mixed-breed dog, became an official (and very famous) member of the Coast Guard. He even saw combat action during a fight with a German U-boat.
In normal times, the Department of Homeland Security guides the Coast Guard. But in wartime, the Department of Defense can take command of coasties and use their resources accordingly.
The Coast Guard stays busy. Each and every day, its men and women perform more than 100 search and rescue missions, saving lives and countering criminal activities all around the country.