The June 1936 simultaneous commissioning of Campbell, Duane, Ingham and Taney at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: 327-foot Secretary Class Cutters “the ships that wouldn’t die”

The Secretary-class cutters proved very dependable, versatile and long-lived warships. They became the backbone of the Coast Guard’s high-endurance cutter fleet after World War II and served as maritime workhorses performing all of the missions demanded of high seas cutters.


Coast Guard Auxiliarists Nancy Schimmelman and Cheryl Warner sail aboard Gloriana, a 48-foot schooner and Coast Guard Auxiliary platform, in the San Francisco Bay. The schooner, built in 1949, is owned and sailed by Schimmelman. (U.S. Coast Guard illustration by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall /Released)

Service Under Sail

San Francisco Bay-based Coast Guard Auxiliarists patrol aboard a 1949 schooner.


Petty Officer Second Class Paul F. Floge, a Coast Guard reservist with Coast Guard Port Security Unit 311 out of San Pedro, Calif., provides security with a .50 caliber machine gun on the Khawr al Amaya oil terminal off the coast of Iraq. Flodge, who works full time for the Los Angeles Police Department, is one of many reservists called to active duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Coast Guard demonstrated the importance of a naval force experienced in shallow-water operations, maritime interdiction operations, port security and aids to navigation work. The port security units performed their port security duties efficiently in spite of their units being divided between three separate port facilities and two oil terminals. Patrol boats operated for countless hours without maintenance in waters too shallow for Navy assets and served as the Coalition fleet’s workhorses in boarding, escort and force protection duties. OIF was just one of the many combat operations fought by the Coast Guard since 1790 and its heroes are among the many members of the long blue line.


Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, April 21, 2010. A Coast Guard MH-65C dolphin rescue helicopter and crew document the fire aboard the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, while searching for survivors April 21. Multiple Coast Guard helicopters, planes and cutters responded to rescue the Deepwater Horizon's 126 person crew. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: local enforcer to global responder—nearly 230 years of Coast Guard evolution!

In 1790, Alexander Hamilton established a small fleet of coastal law enforcement vessels to patrol off East Coast seaports. Over the next 228 years, the service experienced rapid growth in its geographic area of responsibility, mandated missions, and organization through mergers with other maritime services, reorganizations, and transfers from one federal agency to another. These frequent changes demanded remarkable flexibility and resourcefulness of the Coast Guard. The service has lived-up to its motto Semper Paratus by adapting and evolving to meet the nation’s changing needs emerging as a global responder known and respected at home and abroad.


Painting commissioned of Revenue Cutter McCulloch when it first set sail in 1897. U.S. Coast Guard Academy collection.

The Long Blue Line: McCulloch — fighting cutter of Manila Bay

During the ship’s 20-year career, McCulloch performed the missions of search and rescue, ice operations, law enforcement, environmental protection, humanitarian relief and maritime defense. The ship recorded many firsts, such as the first cutter to steam through the Mediterranean and Red seas, transit the Suez Canal, and visit the Far East by way of the Indian Ocean. In addition, its West Coast cruising territory extended from the Arctic and Alaska to southern California. Cutter McCulloch and the men who sailed it remain a part of the legend and the lore of the long blue line.


In 2009, members of LEDET 409 detained suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden as part of Combined Task Force 151. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: LEDETs – 35 years of law enforcement missions

Since 1982, LEDETs have evolved from a counterdrug unit under local Coast Guard command, to one of the service’s modern Deployable Specialized Forces with a global area of responsibility. Over the course of their history, the LEDETs’ role has expanded to carry out a variety of maritime interdiction missions, including counter-piracy, military combat operations, alien migration interdiction, military force protection, counter terrorism, homeland security, and humanitarian response. The LEDETs and their law enforcement mission form one more link in the long blue line.


Uranium glass was popular from the 1920s to the early 1950s. It contained between 2 percent and 25 percent of the oxide diuranate form of uranium which was added to glass before it was melted and formed into glassware. It has a distinctive fluorescent yellow color in regular light, but will glow under blacklight. Despite registering on a Geiger Counter, uranium glass was often used as tableware or other household items. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

When Navy Explosive Ordnance Division knows your name…

A curator’s job is not for the faint of heart as Jen Gaudio, Coast Guard Museum curator, can attest to. In her colorful blog, read more about how working at the Coast Guard Museum in New London, Connecticut, has her on a first-name basis with the Navy Explosive Ordnance Division, and how “dangerous” live in the museum can really be.


Maritime Security and Response Team members deployed in a special rigid-hull inflatable patrol boat. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: MSSTs and MSRTs—forged in the crucible of 9/11

With the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the War on Terror set in motion dramatic changes to the Coast Guard. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, U.S. ports, waterways, and coastlines were protected primarily by Coast Guard boat stations and cutters. Immediately following September 11, Coast Guard resources were reallocated to fill the additional maritime security functions required in a post-9/11 environment. A variety of new units, like the MSSTs and MSRTs, emerged as part of the Coast Guard’s greatest organizational transformation since World War II.


The 82-foot patrol boat Point Cypress in camouflage paint scheme in Vietnam. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard joined the fight in Vietnam over 50 years ago

Today, over 50 years after the service joined the fight in Vietnam, we commemorate the Coast Guardsmen who went in harm’s way, several of whom paid with their lives in a land far from home shores. In all, 8,000 Coast Guardsmen served in Vietnam. Their efforts curtailed maritime smuggling and enemy infiltration, saved hundreds of lives, and proved vital to the war effort in Vietnam.


Cutter Escanaba breaks ice early in its career on the Great Lakes. U.S. Coast Guard Collection.

The Long Blue Line: 75 years ago – Escanaba rescues hundreds then perishes

Following a U-boat attack of the passenger steamer Cherokee, Lt. Robert “Bob” Prause, Jr., developed a cold-water rescue system of tethered rescue swimmers equipped with rubber exposure suits. These came in handy later when the U.S. Army Transport Dorchester was hit by a torpedo in icy waters between Newfoundland and Greenland in 1943. Prause’s system was one of the Coast Guard’s first successful cold-water rescue methods.


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