Coast Guard celebrates 221st birthday, official month designation

Parnell proclaims August Coast Guard Appreciation Month
A United States Coast Guard C-130 leaves Juneau en route to Kotzebue for Operation Arctic Crossroads recently. Gov. Sean Parnell has proclaimed the month of August 2011 as United States Coast Guard Appreciation Month. In addition, today is the 221st birthday of the Aug. 4, 1789, authorization of Congress creating the Revenue Cutter Service, now know as the Coast Guard.

There is much to celebrate on the waters of Alaska, the United States, and beyond as Gov. Sean Parnell officially proclaimed the month of August 2011 “United States Coast Guard Appreciation Month.” In addition, the Coast Guard marks its 221st birthday since its founding as the Cutter Revenue Service on Aug. 4, 1790.

“For decades Alaska has relied on the courageous and professional service of the U.S. Coast Guard,” Parnell said. “We honor these heroes for their day-to-day protection and for their selfless, extraordinary acts on our behalf.”

In his written proclamation dated July 26, Parnell encouraged all Alaskans to recognize and appreciate the honorable service provided to the residents of Alaska and our nation by the brave men and women of the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard has 42,000 active duty personnel and is the premier maritime safety and marine law enforcement agency, a branch of the Armed Forces and the sole military organization within the Department of Homeland Security.

Alaska is represented by the 17th District which includes two sectors, active support facilities, small boat stations, cutters, air stations, an aids-to-navigation team and marine safety units. The district oversees roughly 44,000 coastal miles, more than the 49 other states combined, plus 900,000 square miles of ocean in the Exclusive Economic Zone. Nearly 75 percent of Alaska’s population lives in coastal communities.

“The Coast Guard is deeply honored by Gov. Parnell’s proclamation,” said Coast Guard Capt. Adam Shaw, acting Coast Guard District 17 chief of staff. “The fact that the Coast Guard will also be celebrating its 221st birthday on Aug. 4th makes the proclamation even more special to the Coast Guard men and women stationed throughout the state. Our service has a long and distinguished history of serving and protecting the Alaskan people, their way of life and the state’s bountiful natural resources. Our relationship with the state started with the arrival of the revenue cutter Lincoln and her crew in 1867 and has grown since then to include more than 3,100 active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary personnel and their family members serving at various units throughout the state.”

Coast Guard Station Juneau alone performs 100-150 search and rescue cases annually. The crew also conducts around 300 law enforcement boardings per year, including recreational, boating safety, fisheries and Homeland Security missions.

The station dates back to the mid-1950s. It was located in Auke Bay until 1978, when it was moved to its current location. They performed all missions assigned today as well as servicing manned lighthouses.

The first Coast Guard was founded by the efforts of then-Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton and President George Washington as the Revenue Cutter Service. Under control of the Treasury Department, the mission, according to Washington, was “That service of a few armed vessels, judiciously stationed at the entrances of our ports, might at a small expense be made useful sentinels of the laws.”

The Revenue Cutter Service combined with different federal services, including the U.S. Lighthouse Service, the Steamboat Inspection Service, the Lighthouse Board the U.S. Life-Saving Service and the Bureau of Navigation. The Revenue Cutter Service merged with the Life-Saving Service on Jan 20, 1915, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the act to create the Coast Guard.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at


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