United States Coast Guard Auxiliary: Wikis


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United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
AUX S W.png

United States Coast Guard portal
Active June 23, 1939 - present
Country United States of America
Type Coast Guard,
as an auxiliary organization
Part of Department of Homeland Security
United States Coast Guard
Motto "Semper Paratus"
Colors White, Red, Blue             
March Semper Paratus
Engagements World War II
Vietnam War
War on Terror
Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen
Chief Director of Auxiliary Captain Mark Rizzo
National Commodore COMO Nicholas Kerigan
Service Mark-Racing Stripe AUX M W.png

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary was established on June 23, 1939 by an act of Congress as the United States Coast Guard Reserve and re-designated as the Auxiliary on February 19, 1941. The Auxiliary is an incorporated, civilian volunteer component of the United States Coast Guard ("USCG"). The Congressional mandates state that the Auxiliary supports all USCG missions, but is not permitted to directly engage in either law enforcement activities or military combat operations. The support provided by the Auxiliary in these situations can be administrative and it can be in areas that make available, either active or reserve members of the USCG. Once available, the Active or Reserve member is able to function in these two restricted areas. As of July 2009, there were approximately 29,000 active Auxiliarists.[1]

As a volunteer, an Auxiliarist is not paid a salary and participates in activities at her or his own discretion. Auxiliarists may be reimbursed for expenses incurred when they are under orders from the Commandant. Unlike the active duty and reserve components of the USCG, Auxiliarists are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Auxiliarists who own a boat, aircraft or radio station (amateur or marine band VHF sets) often use their equipment (i.e., "vessels") on behalf of the USCG and are reimbursed for expenses incurred while under mission orders, although membership does not require ownership of a vessel. An Auxiliarist can also serve on a USCG asset once they have obtained proper training. When under orders, the member is recognized as a Federal employee and any approved vessels are recognized as property of the U.S. government. Members use previously-acquired skills and skills obtained via approved training. Examples of previously-acquired skills include carpentry, cooking, radio repair, engine repair, and maintenance, as well as professional skills such as medical, legal and computer skills.


Membership requirements

The basic requirements to become a member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary are

  • United States citizenship
  • Minimum 17 years of age
  • No criminal background (minor misdemeanors, such as certain traffic violations do not disqualify)
  • Willingness to participate in boating, aviation, radio communications, or other areas in support of the Coast Guard
  • Interest in supporting the aims of the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary

A background fingerprint check and citizenship verification is performed by the USCG of all new members, which is done to conduct a criminal background check and confirm identity before the Coast Guard approves membership. An approved member is provided with an identification card that identifies that individual as an employee of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Missions and core values

Historically, the primary missions of the Auxiliary have been providing free Vessel Safety Checks, boater education and USCG operations supplement. These three missions, together with Fellowship (the "glue" which held these missions and its members together), are known as the "four cornerstones" of the Auxiliary. In the current era, the Auxiliary's four cornerstones have become Member Services, Operations and Marine Safety, Recreational Boating Safety and Fellowship.

Auxiliarists can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education. This is the public face of the Auxiliary. The Auxiliary also performs a lot of missions behind the scenes. Annually, members donate millions of hours in support of USCG missions.

Current programs in which Auxiliary members are authorized to participate include, but are not limited to:

  • Administrative support to the Coast Guard
  • Aids to Navigation verification (ATON)
  • Assistance to local government (e.g., Small Boat Course for Local Law Enforcement)
  • Augmentation of Coast Guard billets
  • Bridge administration
  • Auxiliary Air ("AuxAir") - USCG aircraft support
  • Contingency preparedness
  • Licensing of merchant mariners
  • Marine Safety and Environmental Protection (MSEP)
  • Operational support to the Coast Guard (OPS): This includes radio watchstanding (RWS).
  • Port Safety and Security (PS&S)
  • Public Affairs support (PA)
  • Recreational Boating Safety (RBS)
  • Recruiting
  • Search and rescue (SAR)
  • Vessel inspections in partnership with the United States Power Squadrons
  • Waterway management

The Auxiliary shares the Coast Guard's core values and motto, which are Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.[2] The motto is "Semper Paratus"[3] (Always Ready).

Historically, the USCG has supported and encouraged the involvement of the Auxiliary in the Coast Guard's missions. Both the current Commandant (ADM Thad Allen) and Vice Commandant (VADM David Pekoske), as well as the former Vice Commandant (VADM Vivien Crea) have publicly stated their support of the Auxiliary,[4] and in fact, the Coast Guard relied heavily on Auxiliary direct and indirect support during hurricanes Katrina and Rita[5].

Relationship to the military

On September 13, 2006, Admiral Allen issued a new Auxiliary Policy Statement,[6] which states that "Fittingly, the core strategic purpose of the Auxiliary is to continuously hone its expertise to perform three prioritized functions:

  1. Promote and improve recreational boating safety;
  2. Support Coast Guard maritime homeland security efforts; and
  3. Support the Coast Guard’s operational, administrative, and logistical requirements."

It also states that:

"Every commander, commanding officer, officer-in-charge, and program manager shall work closely with their Auxiliary counterparts to fully leverage the resources, skills, qualifications, and profound dedication that reside within the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Such focused collaboration is essential to our unwavering commitment to mission excellence in serving and protecting the public trust."


Auxiliarists are expected to wear a uniform intended for the situation and mission.[7] Each auxiliary uniform is identical to a Coast Guard officer's military uniform, with the exception that the buttons and stripes on dress jackets and shoulder boards are silver in color, rather than gold. Appointed staff officers wear insignia with a red "A", while elected officers wear a blue "A" on insignia worn on dress uniforms. Effective December 31, 2010, black "A"s must be worn on the ODU uniform. Auxiliarists are expected to adhere to the same rules of correct uniform wear as regular Coast Guard officers.

When augmenting Coast Guard personnel, the military-style insignia of Auxiliary position is generally removed and the organizational insignia is worn.

Titles and military etiquette

While Auxiliarists wear military style rank insignia, they do not use military titles.[8] For example, a Flotilla Commander (FC) wears insignia similar to a USCG Lieutenant, but is never referred to as "Lieutenant." The title most commonly used in official correspondence and reports is "Auxiliarist", and its abbreviations (e.g., AUX J. Smith).[9] Exceptions to this rule are elected or appointed Commodores, who wear one to three stars depending on their office, and are the only Auxiliarists who use a military style title ("Commodore") before their name.[10]

Auxiliarists do not normally render military courtesies (such as saluting) to another Auxiliarist, but an Auxiliarist in uniform is expected to return a salute to all armed forces personnel.

Auxiliarists may be awarded medals and decorations of the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary, and may wear medals and decorations awarded in prior military service.[11] The wear of prior military service awards is different than for active and reserve guardians, as they can only wear awards earned while in the Coast Guard and serving with other branches.

Coast Guard organization

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is situated in the Coast Guard's Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety (CG-542), Auxiliary Division (CG-5421) as of 3 October 2007.

Effectively, on the aforementioned date the Coast Guard established the office of the Assistant Commandant for Operations (CG-ACO) in Coast Guard Headquarters. CG-ACO now oversees the Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security, and Stewardship (CG-5) who in turn oversees the Director of Prevention Policy (CG-54), which in turn oversees CG-542.

Legal basis

The legal basis for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary comes from Coast Guard Auxiliary and Reserve Act of 1941, as amended and recodified by Act of August 4, 1949, as 14 U.S.C. 821 through 832 and 891 through 894 and the Code of Federal Regulations Title 33, Part 5 (33 CFR 5).

Regional organization

Regional organization of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Districts and Regions

The basic organization of the Auxiliary is:

  • National - The Auxiliary has national officers who are responsible, along with the Commandant, for the administration and policy-making for the entire Auxiliary. These officers comprise the National Executive Committee (NEXCOM) that is composed of the Chief Director of Auxiliary (CHDIRAUX - an active duty officer), the National Commodore (NACO), and the National Vice Commodores (NAVCO).
    NEXCOM and the National Staff make up the Auxiliary Headquarters organization. The Chief Director is a senior Coast Guard officer and directs the administration of the Auxiliary on policies established by the Commandant. The overall supervision of the Auxiliary is under the Assistant Commandant for Operations (G-O), who reports directly to the Commandant.

Leadership and staffing

As a civilian organization, the Auxiliary does not have a military-style chain of command. There are, however, three chains of leadership and management. Auxiliarists are expected to adhere to the relevant chain when communicating. There is an elected leader chain and an appointed leader chain (known as "parallel staffing"). Members appointed to the National Staff (see DIR, DVC, BC and BA below) have another chain to which they report. The leaders and vice (deputies) of each flotilla, division and district are elected annually. The national leadership is elected once every two years. Other staff officers are appointed based on skills and level of interest. However, the Auxiliary, because of its close work with the other components of the Coast Guard, inherited the meme of staff officer abbreviations, and these are used extensively in internal documents and reports. All leadership positions in the Auxiliary require membership in a Flotilla of the Auxiliary.

National officers

The current national officers were elected on September 1, 2006 to serve a two-year term starting on November 1, 2006:[13]

  • National Commodore (NACO): Nicholas Kerigan
  • Vice National Commodore (VNACO): Jim Vass
  • Deputy National Commodore Operations Atlantic Area (East) (DNACO(O)): Thomas Venezio
  • Deputy National Commodore Operations Policy Atlantic Area (West) (DNACO(W)): Thomas Mallison
  • Deputy National Commodore Force Readiness and Pacific Area (DNACO(R)): Victor Cornell

^Deputy National Commodore Mission Support (DNACO S) Stephen McElroy

  • Immediate Past National Commodore (NACO): Steven M. Budar

The regular National officer positions are:

  • Chief Director of the Auxiliary (CHDIRAUX)[14] - An active duty Coast Guard officer holding the rank of Captain. The CHDIRAUX is the representative of the Commandant and also serves as the Program Manager of the Auxiliary.
  • National Commodore (NACO)[15] – The highest elected Auxiliary leader. Represents the Auxiliary at the National level and advises the Commandant of the Coast Guard by serving on the Coast Guard Leadership Council.
  • National Vice Commodore (NAVCO) - Manages the Coast Guard Auxiliary Association (CGAuxA)[16]
  • National Chief of Staff (NACOS) - Appointed by the National Commodore
  • National Legislative Liaison Committee (NLLC)[17] - created by the National Coast Guard Auxiliary Board to keep abreast of legislative action as well as to be official representatives of the Coast Guard Auxiliary testifying during state and local legislative hearings, meeting's with Governors' staff, state and federal lawmakers. The NLLC reports directly to the NACO.
  • National Directorate Commodores (NADCOM) - Appointed Directorate Commodores responsible for program directorate of Member Services, Operations and Marine Safety, and Recreational Boating Safety.
  • Department Chiefs (DC)[18] - Appointed top officers of the Auxiliary's various National Departments: (A) Public Affairs; (B) Boating; E (Education); I (Information Technology); L (Legal Affairs); M (Marine Safety & Environmental Protection); O (Operations); P (Personnel); T (Training); V (Vessel Examination and Recreational Boating Safety Visiting Program). Under the DC's in each department are Division Chiefs (DVC), who in turn appoint Branch Chiefs (BC) and Branch Assistants (BA).

District officers

  • District Director of the Auxiliary (DIRAUX)[19] - An active duty Coast Guard officer who is dedicated full-time to Auxiliary functions in his or her district. The DIRAUX has sole responsibility for enrolling a new member or for disenrolling an existing member. The DIRAUX is also the final authority in all matters related to his or her Auxiliary district.
  • District Commodore (DCO) - The highest elected level within the district, this office supervises all Auxiliary activities within his or her district, and is elected by the Division Commanders within the district.
  • District Chief of Staff (DCOS) (Formerly District Vice Commodore [VCO]) - The district's Chief of Staff and Assistant to the District Commodore. Elected by the Division Commanders in the district.
  • District Captains (DCAPT) (Formerly District Rear Commodore [RCO]) (two or more per district) - Elected by all Division Commanders and usually supervise a group of divisions in a district. They may also have programmatic responsibilities.
  • District Directorate Officers (DDO) - Some districts appoint DDOs based on the three major areas of Auxiliary activity (i.e., Prevention, Response, and Logistics). They are appointed by the DCO and approved by DIRAUX.
  • District Staff Officers (DSO) - Manage the district's departments and programs; appointed by the DCO and approved by DIRAUX.

Division officers

  • Division Commander (DCDR)- The highest elected Auxiliary leader within a division. Elected by the Flotilla Commanders in a Division. (Formerly know as the Division Captain)
  • Division Vice Commander (VCDR) - Division Chief of Staff and assistant to the Division Commander. Elected by the Flotilla Commanders in a division. (Formerly kown as the Vice Division Captain)
  • Division Staff Officers (SO) - Manage the division's departments and programs; appointed by the DCDR.

Flotilla officers

Titles and duties of flotilla officers are dictated by the Auxiliary Manual.[20]

  • Flotilla Commander (FC) - The highest elected Auxiliary leader within a flotilla. He/she is elected by the members of a flotilla. Recommends new members for enrollment to the DIRAUX.
  • Vice Flotilla Commander (VFC) - The flotilla's Chief of Staff and assistant to the Flotilla Commander. Elected by the members of a Flotilla.
  • Flotilla Staff Officers (FSO) - Manage the flotilla's departments and programs; appointed by the FC.

Flotilla and Division staff officer list

To carry out the Auxiliary program, DCPs and FCs may appoint flotilla and division staff officers. The DCO may appoint district staff officers. A staff officer at the flotilla level is abbreviated FSO; at the division level, SO; and at the District level, DSO. Thus, the SO-CS is the Division Communications Services officer.

The list of staff officers, with their official abbreviations, is:

  • Aviation (AV) (district level only)
  • Communications (CM)
  • Communication Services (CS)
  • Finance (FN)
  • Flight Safety Officer (DFSO) (district level only)
  • Information and Communication Services (IS)
  • Legal/Parliamentarian (LP) (district level only)
  • Recreational Boating Safety Visitation Program (RBSVP)
  • Marine Safety and Environmental Protection (MS)
  • Marketing and Public Affairs (PA)
  • Materials (MA)
  • Member Training (MT)
  • Navigational Systems (NS)
  • Operations (OP)
  • Personnel Services (PS)
  • Public Education (PE)
  • Publications (PB)
  • Secretary/Records (SR)
  • Vessel Examination (VE)


Auxiliarists are able to achieve a wide array of qualifications in both the Auxiliary and the Coast Guard. Many qualifications come with certificates of completion as well as ribbons and devices.[21] In addition, Auxiliarists can earn or be awarded a multitude of ribbons and medals,[22] both Auxiliary-specific and Coast Guard, for service. Since Auxiliarists are not paid for their service, this type of recognition serves an important purpose in acknowledging the volunteer work of Auxiliarists.

On May 25, 2006, President George W. Bush presented the Presidential Unit Citation to the U.S. Coast Guard for meritorious achievement and outstanding performance in action from August 29, 2005 to September 13, 2005, in preparation for, and response and recovery to devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.[23] This award applies to all components of the Coast Guard (i.e., active, reserve, auxiliary, and civilians) since the response to Katrina was an all hands effort.

On June 19, 2009, the Commandant of the Coast Guard awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation to Auxiliary members for "performance...nothing short of stellar" from the period of June 24, 1999, to June 23, 2009.[24]

Public Affairs

United States Coast Guard Auxiliary's Public Affairs Program Logo

Auxiliarists are involved in many missions, all over the globe. The Auxiliary's Department of Public Affairs[25] issues News Releases[26] on many of the accomplishments of the Auxiliary, as well as manages the Internal Communications to the Auxiliary through SITREP,[27] its online E-zine, and Navigator,[28] its quarterly magazine. They also produce magazine articles for reprint in any venue on the AuxGuidanceSkills.info web site.[29]

In addition, many Departments, Districts and lower level units have their own publications. The Department of Public Affairs maintains a web site called PA Update[30] to inform the many Auxiliarists involved in Public Affairs and Publications.

On the community level, the Department of Public Affairs runs the Fleet Home Town News (FHTN) program[31] for the Coast Guard. The FHTN program dates back to World War II. It is a program designed to increase national awareness of the activities of sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen through written stories and documented images about them and their personal achievements in their hometown news media.

The Auxiliary also run the Coastie program.[32] Coastie is an animated robotic cartoon character. He has navigation and searchlights, a rotating beacon, a siren, an air horn, and eyes and eyelids that move meaningfully. He talks, plays music, and interacts with the instructor and the children during the presentation. He even has a bilge pump that pumps water like a real boat; that always brings smiles and laughter to all when used. Coastie also has his own built in squirt gun that kids love. Coastie is 44 inches long, 30 inches wide, 45 inches tall and weighs about 120 pounds. He is painted bright blue and has decals promoting Boating and Water Safety from many boating safety organizations. He flies five colorful flags: the United States Ensign, Coast Guard Operational Flag, Coast Guard Auxiliary Ensign, and the Flag of the State of Ohio, along with a flag denoting boating safety on one side and water safety on the other. He has his own infrared remote CD player to improve his music selection capability.

The History Division[33] is charged with maintaining historical documents and a chronological history of the Auxiliary since its inception in 1939.

Daily contribution

The Lady B, a vessel of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, on patrol near the Brooklyn Bridge

On any given day, on average, Auxiliarists throughout the United States will do the following:[34]

  • Complete 62.5 safety patrols
  • Complete 6.2 regatta patrols
  • Perform 10.2 vessel assists
  • Assist 28 people
  • Save 1 life
  • Save $341,290 in property
  • Participate in 100 operational support missions
  • Participate in 48.7 administrative support missions
  • Complete 13.4 recruiting support missions
  • Educate 369 people on boating safety
  • Perform 299 vessel safety checks
  • Attend 70 public affairs functions

See also

External links

Coast Guard web sites

National Auxiliary web sites

Non-auxiliary web sites


  1. ^ http://www.uscg.mil/top/about/doc/uscg_snapshot.pdf
  2. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: “United States Coast Guard Core Values & Creed”
  3. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Semper Paratus
  4. ^ U.S. Coast Guard, Commandant’s Corner: “A special message to our Coast Guard Auxiliary Members”
  5. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, letter to the Coast Guard Auxiliary (PDF)
  6. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Auxiliary Policy Statement (PDF)
  7. ^ http://www.uscg.mil/directives/cim/16000-16999/CIM_16790_1F.pdf
  8. ^ Auxiliary Manual.
  9. ^ Auxiliary Manual.
  10. ^ Auxiliary Manual.
  11. ^ Auxiliary Manual.
  12. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Auxiliary Unit Directory and Finder
  13. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary SitRep: NACON 2006 election results
  14. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Office of the Auxiliary
  15. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary National Commodore
  16. ^ Coast Guard Auxiliary Association: Welcome
  17. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: National Legislative Liaison Committee
  18. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Departments
  19. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Auxiliary Districts, Areas, and Regions
  20. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Flotilla Officers Structure
  21. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Breast Insignia and Badges
  22. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Current Ribbons of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
  23. ^ Piersystem.com: Presidential Unit Citation (MS Word document)
  24. ^ U.S. Coast Guard's ALCOAST 365/09, COMDTNOTE 16790, 19 Jun 2009
  25. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Office of Public Affairs
  26. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Press Releases
  27. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: SitRep
  28. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Navigator Online
  29. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: AuxGuidanceSkills.info
  30. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: PA Update
  31. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Fleet Home Town News
  32. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Coastie
  33. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: The Coast Guard Auxiliary: Past and Present
  34. ^ http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/comrel/factfile/Factcards/AuxGlance.html


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