The United States Coast Guard uses cutters and small boats on the water, and fixed- and rotary wing (helicopters) aircraft in the air. The Coast Guard employs various small arms including handguns, shotguns, rifles, and machine guns.
Originally, the Coast Guard used the term cutter in its traditional sense, as a type of small sailing ship. Today it officially uses the term for any vessel which has a permanently assigned crew and accommodations for the extended support of that crew, and includes only and all vessels of 65-foot (20 m) or more in length.
Larger cutters (over 181 feet (55 m) in length) are controlled by Area Commands (Atlantic Area or Pacific Area). Smaller cutters come under control of district commands. Cutters usually carry a motor surf boat and/or a rigid-hulled inflatable boat. Polar-class icebreakers (WAGB) carry an Arctic survey boat (ASB) and landing craft.
The Coast Guard formerly leased 179-foot Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships from the U.S. Navy. All are homeported in Pascagoula, Mississippi. These vessels were used primarily for counterdrug patrols. Four have now been returned to the navy.
Any Coast Guard crew with officers or petty officers assigned has law-enforcement authority (14 USC Sec. 89) and can conduct armed boardings.
- For a complete list of cutters see: United States Coast Guard Cutter and List of United States Coast Guard cutters
- Polar Security Cutter: The Polar Security Cutter Program is the program to replace the United States Coast Guard's aging fleet of icebreakers.
- Polar-class icebreaker (WAGB): There are three WAGB's, all home ported in Seattle, Washington. Two are 399-foot (122 m) icebreakers (Polar Sea and Polar Star), and one newer 420-foot (130 m) icebreaker, Healy.
- National Security Cutter (WMSL) (aka Legend-class)
- High Endurance Cutter (WHEC): These are 12 Hamilton class cutters, 378 feet (115 m) along the waterline. Only 3 still in use, with 8 having been transferred to the Philippines, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Nigeria.
- USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30): Mackinaw is a 240-foot (73 m) heavy icebreaker built for operations on the North American Great Lakes and home ported at Cheboygan, Michigan.
- USCGC Eagle (WIX-327): Eagle is home ported at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. It is used for training voyages for Coast Guard Academy cadets and Coast Guard officer candidates. USCGC Eagle was built in Germany as the Horst Wessel, and was taken by the United States as a war reparation in 1945.
- Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutter (Still in development)
- Medium Endurance Cutter (WMEC): These include fourteen 210-foot (64 m) Reliance-class cutters, thirteen 270-foot (82 m) Famous-class cutters, and the 282-foot (86 m) Alex Haley.
- 179-foot Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships: All ships formerly operated by the USCG were transferred back to the navy along with one transferred to the Philippine Navy.
- Seagoing Buoy Tender (WLB): There are 16 Juniper-class buoy tenders being commissioned.
- USCG coastal buoy tender
- USCG Katmai Bay class icebreaking tug
- 156-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter
- 110-foot Island Class Cutter (WPB): There are currently 41 110′ patrol boats in active duty service in the U.S. Coast Guard. Eight additional 110-foot patrol boats were extended to 123 feet (37 m) but structural issues developed shortly after these conversions and the cutters were deemed unsafe to operate. The Coast Guard as of 2007[update] the USCG was seeking a $50 million refund from Bollinger Shipyards. Six of the WPB fleet are assigned to the Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) in the Persian Gulf to assist guarding Iraq's waters.
- 87-foot Marine Protector Class Cutter (WPB): This is a class of 87-foot (27 m) patrol boats.
- 65-foot Small Harbor Tug (WYTL): This is a class of fifteen tugs used by the United States Coast Guard for search and rescue, law enforcement, aids-to-navigation work and light icebreaking.
The Coast Guard operates about 1,402 boats, defined as any vessel less than 65 feet (20 meters) in length, which generally operate near shore and on inland waterways. The most common is 25 feet (7.62 m) long, of which the Guard has more than 350; the shortest is 12 feet (4 m).
The Coast Guard boat fleet includes:
- Arctic Survey Boat (ASB)
- 52-foot Motor Life Boat (MLB): The Coast Guard currently has four of the 52-foot motor life boats, a craft designed from the ground up to serve in challenging surf conditions. All four craft are currently assigned to surf stations in the Pacific Northwest.
- 47-foot Motor Life Boat (MLB): The Coast Guard's primary heavy-weather boat used for search and rescue as well as law enforcement and homeland security.
- Aids to Navigation Boats (TANB/BUSL/ANB/ANB)
- Transportable Port Security Boat (TPSB): 25-foot (7.6 m) boat, based on the commercial version of the 25-foot (8 m) center-console Boston Whaler, suitable for work in inland waters, easily transportable by trailer. These are primarily used by Port Security Units for force protection in naval support areas abroad, as well as, ports of embarkation/debarkation in expeditionary areas. Most recently these boats and units were deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The durability, versatility, and mobility of these boats make them ideal for this type of operation.
- The Coast Guard planned to reduce the inventory of Boston Whalers because of the lack of interoperable spare parts. On Friday, July 13th, the General Services Administration approved the transfer of 10 Coast Guard boats to the Army in Iraq. The boats, 24-foot and 27-foot Boston Whalers with trailers, had an original acquisition cost of more than $800,000. The Army is looking for approximately 55 Riverine or Patrol style boats to conduct water interdiction, river denial and island clearance missions, troop transport and insertion on a regular basis; the Coast Guard is providing the Army with the Boston Whalers and one Ambar boat, a patrol type vessel.
- 32 ft Transportable Port Security Boat (TPSB): A 32-foot boat designed to replace the 25 foot TPSB boat with various improvements in crew safety, protection, and comfort.
- USCG Short Range Prosecutor (SRP): A 7-meter (23 ft) launch that could be launched from a rear launching ramp, at speed. The SRP was removed from service due to multiple problems with its systems. It has been replaced by the over the horizon boat Mark IV (OTH-IV)
- USCG Long Range Interceptor (LRI): An 11-meter (36 ft) high-speed launch that can be launched from the rear ramps of the National Security Cutters.
- Response Boat-Small (Defender-Class): A high-speed boat, for a variety of missions, including search and rescue, port security and law enforcement duties. The original 25-foot boats built by SAFE Boats International (Secure All-around Flotation Equipped) of Port Orchard, Washington are being replaced by 29-foot boats built by Metal Shark Boats of Jeanerette, LA.
- Response boat - Small II: A 29 foot replacement for the Defender Class, built by Metal Shark Boats
- 45-Foot Response Boat – Medium: The Coast Guard has signed a multi-year contract for 180 Response Boat – Medium (RB-M) boats that were delivered starting in 2008 to replace the 41′ UTB boats. These aluminum boats are 45 feet (13.7 m) in length, have twin diesel engines (total 1650 hp), are self-righting, have a four crew, six passenger capacity, are equippable with two .50 caliber machine guns, have an excellent fendering system, have a top speed of 42 knots (78 km/h), and are capable of towing a 100-ton vessel in eight-foot seas. The boats were built by Kvichak Marine Industries of Kent, Washington and Marinette Marine of Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
- There are a number of Special Purpose Crafts (SPC), as follows: 18', 20' and 22' Airboats (SPC-AIR & SPC-Airboat), 36' Boarding Team Delivery (SPC-BTD), 52' Heavy Weather (SPC-HWX), 33' Law Enforcement (SPC-LE), 42' Near Shore Lifeboat (SPC-NSB), 24' Shallow Water (SPC-SW),
64' Screening Vessel (SPC-SV), 38' Training Boat (SPC-TB), 39' Tactical Training Boat (SPC-TTR)
- USCG Auxiliary Operational Facilities: The Coast Guard surface fleet is augmented by privately owned vessels operated by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.
The Coast Guard operates about 210 aircraft. Fixed-wing aircraft (such as Lockheed HC-130 Hercules turboprops) operate from Air Stations on long-duration missions. Helicopters (Aérospatiale HH-65 Dolphin, Sikorsky HH-60J Jayhawk, and Agusta MH-68 Stingray) operate from Air Stations, Air Facilities, and flight-deck equipped cutters, and can rescue people or intercept smuggling vessels. Some special MH- designated helicopters are armed with guns and some are equipped with armor to protect against small arms fire.
The Coast Guard flies several aircraft types:
- 27 Lockheed HC-130 Hercules
- 42 Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk
- 102 Airbus MH-65 Dolphin
- 11 HC-27J Spartan Out of 14 on order.
- 18 CASA HC-144A Ocean Sentry.
- 2 Gulfstream C-37A aircraft as a VIP transport for high-ranking Coast Guard and Homeland Security officials.
- An unspecified number of RG-8A Condors.
The Coast Guard was to purchase the Bell Eagle Eye UAV as part of the Deepwater program, but this has been cancelled. The Coast Guard is currently preparing to launch a small UAS competition for the Legend-class NSC and future Heritage-class cutter.
|HMMWV||United States||limited unspecified number|||
|LSSV||United States||unspecified number|||
|P229R-DAK||.40 S&W||Pistol||Germany||Standard service pistol in a Double Action Kellerman (DAK) model|
|M16A2||5.56×45mm NATO||Assault rifle||United States||Limited service|
|M4||5.56×45mm NATO||Carbine||United States||Standard issue service rifle. The Deployable Operations Group also employs the Mk 18 upper receiver|
|Mk 18 carbine||5.56×45mm NATO||Carbine||United States||Standard issue service carbine. The Maritime Security Response Team also employs them|
|M249||5.56×45mm NATO||Light machine gun||United States||Used on some smaller vessels as well as on land in Port Security Units|
|M240||7.62×51mm NATO||General purpose machine gun||United States||M240B variant is employed aboard surface vessels while the M240H is used aboard the MH-60 Jayhawk and MH-65 Dolphin helicopters. The M240 is also used on land by Port Security units|
|M60||7.62×51mm NATO||General purpose machine gun||United States||Used on various boats such as the Defender-class boat|
|Browning M2HB||.50 BMG||Heavy machine gun||United States||Primarily mounted on seagoing vessels. Some machine guns are used on land by Port Security Units|
|M14||7.62×51mm NATO||Designated marksman rifle||United States||Variant known as the M14 Tactical fitted with the Mk 14 Enhanced Battle Rifle stock, with a 22-inch barrel and a Smith Enterprise muzzle brake.|
|Mk 11||7.62×51mm NATO||Sniper rifle||United States||Used by the Deployable Operations Group|
|M107||.50 BMG||Anti-materiel rifle, sniper rifle||United States||Used for Airborne Use of Force (AUF) missions|
|M203||40mm||Grenade launcher||United States||Single-shot underbarrel grenade launcher|
|Mk 19||40mm||Automatic grenade launcher||United States||Belt-fed|
|MK3 grenade||Concussion Grenade||United States||Used as an anti-swimmer grenade. Being phased out and being replaced by a newer Anti-Swimmer Grenade.|
Coast Guard radio stations cover a wide geographical area using very high frequency and high frequency radios. There are eight major radio stations covering long-range transmissions and an extensive network of VHF radio stations along the nation's coastline and inland rivers.
The OMEGA navigation system and the LORAN-C transmitters outside the USA were run until 1994 also by the United States Coast Guard, and LORAN-C transmitters within the US were decommissioned on June 1, 2010, with the exception of 5 CONUS LORAN-C stations that continue to be manned due to international agreements.
- Equipment of the United States Army
- Equipment of the United States Air Force
- Equipment of the United States Navy
- Equipment of the United States Marine Corps
- USCG Regulations Archived 2006-07-23 at the Wayback Machine. Chapter 10. Accessed 11 December 2006.
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