The Coast Guard has a three-fold mission: safety, security and stewardship. The primary duty of the Coast Guard is to defend all United States coastlines, including inland seas such as all five Great Lakes. They are bound to protect life and property at sea in and around coastal waters, and to enforce customs, immigration and navigation laws. This affects the maritime economy, the coastal environment, saves persons in peril at sea, and the service is the defender of United States maritime borders.
The history of the Coast Guard began on August 4, 1790, as authorized by the first U.S. Congress. Original names included the Revenue Marine and Revenue Cutter Service. When Congress passed the "Act to Create the Coast Guard," signed January 28, 1915, by President Woodrow Wilson, the Life-Saving Service blended into the Revenue Cutter Service as the new Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has participated in every national conflict.
The initial mission of the Coast Guard was to prevent smuggling and enforce trade laws and tariffs. The service expanded along with the nation, until its present size. It has been part of the Department of the Navy, Department of Transportation, and most recently was delegated in peacetime to the Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003. During times of war, the service is under the direction of the Department of the Navy.