Coast Guard: Wikis


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A CH-149 Cormorant training with a Canadian Coast Guard cutter.

A coast guard or coastguard is a national organization responsible for various services at sea. However the term implies widely different responsibilities in different countries, from being a heavily armed military force with customs and security duties to being a volunteer organisation tasked with search and rescue functions and lacking any law enforcement powers.



Among the responsibilities that may be entrusted to a coast guard service are:

During wartime, some coast guard organisations might have responsibilities in harbour defence, port security, naval counter- intelligence and coastal patrols.

The coast guard may, varying by jurisdiction, be part of the country's military, a law enforcement agency, or a search and rescue body. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard is a military branch with a law enforcement capacity, whereas the United Kingdom's Her Majesty's Coastguard is a civilian organisation whose only role is search and rescue[1].

In some countries, the coast guard is part of the military (such as the US), in others it is a civilian, law enforcement, or even private sector organisation. Most coast guards operate ships and aircraft including helicopters and seaplanes that are either owned or leased by the agency in order to fulfil their respective roles.

Some coastguards, such as the Irish Coast Guard have only a very limited law enforcement role, usually in enforcing maritime safety law, such as by inspecting ships docked in their jurisdiction[2]. In cases where the coast guard is primarily concerned with coordinating rather than executing rescue operations, lifeboats are often provided by civilian voluntary organisations, such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in the United Kingdom, whilst aircraft may be provided by the countries' armed forces, such as Sea Kings operated by the RAF and Royal Navy in addition to any of the coast guard's own assets.

Types and roles

The following lists a select number of coast guards around the world, illustrating the varied roles they play in the respective countries they operate in:


The Argentine Naval Prefecture, in Spanish Prefectura Naval Argentina or PNA, is a service of the Argentine Interior Ministry charged with protecting the country's rivers and maritime territory. It therefore fulfills the functions of other countries' coast guards, and furthermore acts as a gendarmerie force policing navigable rivers.


With 19,650 kilometres of coastline does not have a force purely to defend its coast. The duty of patrolling the Australian coastline falls to the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Customs (through its Coastwatch division), and the Police services of the states. In addition, there are several private volunteer coast guard organizations, the two largest rival organizations being the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol (established in 1937) and the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard (established in 1961). These volunteer organizations have no law enforcement powers, but are essentially auxiliary Search and Rescue services.


The Bangladesh Coast Guard's officers are transferred from the Bangladesh Navy. While under the remit of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the coast guard is part of the country's military[3].


In Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is a civilian service under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans responsible for patrolling the world's longest coastline of 243,042 km (~151,000 mi)[4].

The CCG holds responsibility for all marine search and rescue in Canada. The CCG coordinates search and rescue operations with the Canadian Forces, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and other organizations. The CCG maintains and operates seamarks, coastal light stations, vessel traffic services, marine pollution response services, marine communications systems and provides icebreaking services. CCG also operates all federal scientific research and hydrographic survey vessels. To accomplish these tasks, CCG has a sizeable fleet of vessels and aircraft, all serviced from various bases and smaller stations located on three coasts (Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific) and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.[5]

The Canadian Coast Guard College is located near Sydney, Nova Scotia.

China (PRC)

See article: Chinese Coast Guard

The Peoples Republic of China operates several coast guard agencies. It is believed that in the near future, an integration of all these separate services would form a Chinese coast guard. In addition, these services operate their own small aviation units to assist their maritime patrol capabilities.

The China Coast Guard (Simplified Chinese: 中国海警) serves as a coordinating body for maritime search and rescue in the territorial waters of the People's Republic of China. The China Coast Guard is the maritime branch of the Public Security Border Troops, a paramilitary police force under the leadership of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS).

The China Maritime Safety Administration (Chinese: 中国海事局) is a government agency which coordinates maritime search and rescue in the territorial waters of the People's Republic of China. The CMSA is part of the Ministry of Transport.

The China Marine Surveillance (CMS), created on 19 October 1998, is a paramilitary maritime law enforcement agency of the State Oceanic Administration of the People’s Republic of China. The force is responsible for enforcing laws and order within China’s territorial waters, exclusive economic zones (EEZ), and shores, protect maritime environment, natural resources, navigation aids and other facilities, and carry out maritime surveys. In time of emergency, the force can also be deployed for other missions such as search and rescue.

The China Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC), an organ of the Fisheries Management Bureau under the PRC Ministry of Agriculture, is responsible for the enforcement of laws concerning fishing and maritime resources within PRC’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ). FLEC’s responsibilities include protecting Chinese fishing vessels and personnel, resolving disputes in fishing activities, preventing illegal fishing, and protecting maritime resources.

China (ROC)

In Taiwan, the Coast Guard Administration (ROCCGA) is both a military and a law enforcement organization. The ROCCGA is considered a civilian law enforcement agency under the administration of the Executive Yuan, though during wartime it may be incorporated as part of the military. Its primary roles are in ensuring the safety and security of the country's waters and coordinating search and rescue efforts.[6]

ROCCGA is instituted Maritime Patrol Directorate General and Coast Patrol Directorate General. Officers of Maritime Patrol Directorate General are law executors, but officers of Coast Patrol Directorate General are soldiers who have partial law-enforcement power.


In France, there are no Coast Guards, per se. But, in each region, a Naval Admiral, called Préfet Maritime, is in charge of coordination of all state services for action at sea (Navy, gendarmerie, customs, fishery survey ...). The charity, Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer, provides most life saving duties.


The German Federal Coast Guard, known as the Küstenwache, is both a civilian service and a law enforcement organisation, staffed with both police officers and certain civilians from the various German federal agencies associated with maritime administration with responsibility for the coordination of all law enforcement activities within its jurisdiction.[7]


The Haitian Coast Guard is an operational unit of the Haitian National Police. It is one of the few law enforcement organisations in the world to combine water policing and coast guard duties while remaining as a policing unit. It operates primarily as a law enforcement agency, with secondary responsibilities in search and rescue.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, law enforcement duties are carried out by the Marine Police and the Customs and Excise Department. The Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (HKMRCC) co-ordinates search and rescue vessels, aircraft and other resources of the Fire Services Department, Government Flying Service, Marine Department and the Marine Police.


The Icelandic Coast Guard is primarily a law enforcement organisation and is subordinate to the Ministry of Justice. It is, however, commonly involved in military operations and exercises, such as Enduring Freedom and Northern Challenge[8].


In India, the Indian Coast Guard is a military unit and, in contrast with some coast guard units, resembles a naval coastal defence force. It has responsibility for search and rescue, enforcement of maritime law- smuggling, immigration and shipping regulations- and protecting the country's maritime and offshore resources[9]


The Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) makes up one arm of the Maritime Safety Services, the other being the Maritime Safety Directorate. Both arms are due to merge into a new "one stop shop" Agency for all maritime safety matters. The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is: To reduce the loss of life within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and on rivers, lakes and waterways and to protect the quality of the marine environment within the Irish Pollution Responsibility Zone, Harbours and Maritime Local Authority areas and to preserve property. To promote safety standards, and by doing so, prevent, as far as possible, the loss of life at sea and on inland waters and other areas, and to provide an effective emergency response service".


In Italy, the Guardia Costiera is part of the Italian Navy under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. They have responsibility for enforcement of shipping and maritime safety regulations, as well as performing search and rescue duties[10]


In Japan, The Japan Coast Guard is the Japanese coast guard. It is under the oversight of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and is responsible for the protection the coast-lines of Japan.


In Malaysia, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) or Malaysian Coast Guard is part of the Malaysian Civil Service and is under the Prime Minister's Department. The Agency is headed by a Director General who is appointed by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong (King) on the advice of the Prime Minister while other personnel are appointed by the Public Service Commission. In times of war, crisis or emergency, the Agency may be placed under the command of the Malaysian Armed Forces. It was formed to combat the rise of piracy in the Malaccan and Moluccan straits, especially after frequent attacks from the Orang laut pirate during the 1900s. Personnel often work very closely with the Royal Malaysian Navy and Royal Malaysian Air Force. The Coast Guard operates a Special Forces Commando or STAR (Special Weapons and Tactics) unit, which was absorbed from the Navy's PASKAL and Air Force's PASKAU. The agency utilises its resources in a maritime law enforcement and search and rescue capacity.[11]

Netherlands Antilles & Aruba

The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba Coastguard is the coast guard of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, both of which are protectorates of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

New Zealand

The Royal New Zealand Coastguard is a civilian volunteer charitable organisation[12], providing search and rescue services to coastal waterways and some lakes in New Zealand. Smaller incidents are coordinated by the New Zealand Police, who may call on the services and resources of the coastguard. Larger incidents are managed by the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ), with support from the New Zealand Defence Force.[13]


The Norwegian Coast Guard, or Kystvakten in Norwegian, is a part of the Royal Norwegian Navy, but has separate vessels, many of which are purpose-built. Coast guard vessels have the prefix KV. Four of these vessels are capable of embarking one or more helicopters. Norway's exclusive economic zone, the Coast Guard's area of responsibility, is about 2.2 million square kilometers, the largest in Western Europe.


In Pakistan, the Pakistani Coast Guard is the youngest of the nation's armed forces. It is a military force in its right, as opposed to being part of the Pakistan Navy. The coast guard has responsibilities for protecting and the country's coastlines in terms of strategic security, as well as law enforcement within the country's Exclusive economic zone[14].


In the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is a maritime law enforcement agency operating under the Department of Transportation and Communications of the Philippine government. It is tasked with the broader enforcement of maritime laws, especially against smuggling, illegal fishing, drug trafficking and piracy. It patrols the country's 36,289-kilometer coastline, and is also involved in maritime search and rescue (SAR) missions, as well as the protection of the marine environment.[15]


Maritime Border Troops of the Russian Border Troops the operate within the twelve-mile limit of Russian territorial waters and are equipped with frigates and corvettes, fast patrol boats, hydrofoils, helicopters, and light aircraft.


A third generation Patrol Craft of the Police Coast Guard conducting a sea-rescue demonstration off the southeastern coast of Singapore.

In Singapore, the Police Coast Guard (PCG) is an operational department of the Singapore Police Force. Functions of the coast guard were transferred from the Republic of Singapore Navy to what was then the Marine Police in February 1993 [16]. The Marine Police was thus restructured and renamed as the Police Coast Guard, one of the few law enforcement organisations in the world to combine water policing and coast guard duties while remaining as a policing unit. It operates primarily as a law enforcement agency, with secondary responsibilities in search and rescue.[17]

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, until 2009 a Coast Guard Unit existed under the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, responsible for fishy and natural resource protection coastal areas. A new Department of Coast Guard was created under the Department of Coast Guard Bill presented to parliament in 2009. The department would be under the purview of the Ministry of Defence and be staffed by civilian personal. The department's responsibilities include search and rescue, law enforcement within the country's Exclusive economic zone, conducting anti-smuggling and anti-immigration operations, suppression of terrorist activities in territorial waters of Sri Lanka.[18]

United Kingdom

The HM Coastguard station at Girvan Scotland.

In the United Kingdom, Her Majesty's Coastguard is purely concerned with search and rescue. It has no role in the maintenance of seamarks which is instead the responsibility of Trinity House, the Northern Lighthouse Board (in Scotland) and the Commissioners of Irish Lights (in Northern Ireland), nor has it any concern with customs enforcement, which is the responsibility of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. HM Coastguard does not possess its own lifeboats, instead calling on those of the volunteer Royal National Lifeboat Institution and other independent Lifeboats[19], although it often wet leases commercial helicopters — mainly Sikorsky S-92s and AgustaWestland AW139s— and tugs to provide search and rescue cover in certain areas. It does, however, maintain a number of search, cliff and mud rescue teams as well as some inshore rescue boats and is a coordinating body and public face for the maritime search and rescue services. It is part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which in itself is an executive agency of the department for transport.

United States of America

Racing Stripe

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is both a military and a law enforcement service. It is one of the seven components of the uniformed services of the United States and one of the five elements of the United States armed forces. Its role includes enforcement of US law, coastal defense, and search and rescue.[20]

During peacetime the USCG falls under the administration of the United States Department of Homeland Security. During wartime, the USCG may, at the direction of the President, report to the Secretary of the Navy; its resources, however, are integrated into U.S. military operations (see 14 U.S.C. § 34).

The USCG maintains an extensive fleet of coastal and ocean-going patrol ships, called cutters by tradition, and small craft, as well as an extensive aviation division consisting of HH-65 Dolphin and HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and fixed wing aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules, HU-25 Guardian, and HC-144 Ocean Sentry. USCG helicopters are equipped with hoists to rescue survivors and also play a major role in law enforcement. The helicopters are able to land and take off from USCG cutters, making them an indispensable tool in fighting illegal drug traffic and the influx of illegal migrants. The fixed wing aircraft are used for long range search and rescue and law enforcement patrols.


In Uruguay, the Coast Guard (Prefectura Nacional Naval-PRENA)[1] is a part of the Navy.

It is tasked with the broader enforcement of maritime laws, especially against smuggling, illegal fishing, drug trafficking and piracy. It patrols the country's coastline, and is also involved in maritime search and rescue (SAR) missions, as well as the protection of the marine environment. of the marine environment.

See also


External links

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|A Coast guard ship in Sweden]] A Coast Guard is a military or semi-military organization, similar to the Navy, but its main duties are the protection of a country's sea territories from terrorism and crimes, and to rescue ships and boats in danger. The most famous coast guard is the United States Coast Guard (USCG). Sometimes, the coast guard is also a law enforcement organisation. The United States Coast Guard does this.

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