uscga badge
Close this search box.
Home / Careers / Coast Guard Roles and Missions
Roles and Missions header

Coast Guard Roles and Missions

The United States is a maritime nation with extensive interests in the seas around us and far beyond. As a U.S. Coast Guard officer, you’ll help to secure these interests, fulfilling the Coast Guard’s strategic roles of ensuring the safety, security and stewardship of our nation’s waters.

Semper Paratus

The Coast Guard’s service motto is Semper Paratus – Always Ready. We are on duty 365 days a year.

Missions of the Coast Guard

Coast Guard units each perform more than one kind of mission – sometimes on the same day. They are America’s Maritime Guardians, saving lives and deterring complex threats – from disrupting transnational crime and terrorism, to preventing cyber threats to our ports, to addressing the impact of human activity in the polar-regions as ice caps recede.

Search and Rescue: Prevent loss of life or injury and minimize property loss at sea by rendering aid to those in distress. Search and Rescue is one of the Coast Guard’s oldest missions.

Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security: Protect people and property in the U.S. Maritime Transportation System by preventing, disrupting and responding to terrorist attacks, sabotage, espionage or subversive acts.

Drug Interdiction: Deter and disrupt the illegal drug market, dismantle transnational organized crime and prevent these threats from reaching U.S. shores. The USCG coordinates closely with other federal agencies and allied partners within a six-million-square-mile area known as the transit zone.

Migrant Interdiction: Promote safe, legal and orderly migration operations by enforcing U.S. immigration laws, upholding international conventions against human smuggling and repatriating undocumented migrants.

Living Marine Resources: Enforce U.S. and international laws and treaties to conserve living marine resources and their habitat, including endangered and protected species and locales.

Marine Environmental Protection: Reduce the risk of harm to the marine ecosystem by developing and enforcing regulations to avert the introduction of invasive species, prevent and respond to oil spills and hazardous substance discharges and stop unauthorized ocean dumping.

Ice Operations: Break ice in the Great Lakes and Northeast to facilitate commerce and protect communities in emergency situations. Conduct research and resupply the McMurdo Station research center in Antarctica, and maintain year-round access to the planet’s polar regions using Polar Icebreakers.

Marine Safety: Prevent accidents and property losses by establishing maritime standards, conducting inspections and investigations, partnering with boating safety organizations and licensing U.S. mariners.

Aids to Navigation: Mark the nation’s Marine Transportation System, including waterways and ports. Maintain 50,000 electronic and visual aids and provide traffic management services to keep mariners and boaters safe.

Other Law Enforcement: Protect the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from encroachments by foreign fishing vessels and enforce agreements to reduce illegal fishing. The U.S. exercises sovereign rights over all resources in the EEZ, which encompasses more than 4.5 million square miles of waters within 200 miles of the U.S. coastline.

Defense Readiness: Support the national military strategy and Department of Defense movement and operations by securing airspace in Washington, DC; conducting intercept operations; and in-theater environmental protection, force protection and port control.

Save 15 lives
Assist 117 people in distress
$ 0
Protect $2.8 million in property
Interdict 15 illegal migrants at sea
Conduct 90 search and rescue cases
Seize $21 million worth of illegal drugs
Board and inspect 122 vessels
Monitor the transit of 2,557 commercial ships through U.S. ports

Sponsor Family Application

Thank you for submitting your application to be part of the Sponsor Family Program. Your application will be processed in the upcoming week. Coast Guard Academy’s policy on background screening now requires all adults (everyone 18 and older living in the home) who volunteer to mentor, teach, coach or sponsor cadets, whether on or off Coast Guard Academy grounds, to be screened every 5 years. They are required to provide personal information (name, birth date and social security number) for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check.

The Security Officer at the Coast Guard Academy, CWO2 Gina Polkowski, is overseeing this process. Her email is:

Sponsor Family designations fall into several different categories. Below are the guidelines to help you determine how best to meet the background screening requirement:

  1. If you are Coast Guard active duty you do not need to apply for an additional Background Check. You will be vetted through the Coast Guard system by CWO2 Polkowski.
  2. If you are a Civilian working for the Coast Guard you do not need to apply for an additional Background Check. You will be vetted through the Coast Guard system by CWO2 Polkowski.
  3. If you are non-Coast Guard Active Duty, you are required to provide proof of your current security clearance or National Agency Check that is to be emailed by your Command Security Officer (CSO)/ Security Office to CWO2 Polkowski at
  4. If you are non-Coast Guard civilian who has a current security clearance or National Agency check, you are required to provide proof of your current security clearance or National Agency Check that is to be emailed by your Command Security Officer (CSO)/ Security Office to CWO2 Polkowski at
  5. All civilians in the families who are 18 years or older and do not have a security clearance or a National Agency Check are required to be vetted through Mind Your Business, the third party vendor hired by the Coast Guard Academy for the vetting process.

After you complete your application, please e-mail the Sponsor Family Program Coordinator at In your e-mail, you must include the e-mail address and phone number of every adult living in the home. The Sponsor Family Coordinator will then initiate the background check process and you will receive an email with further instructions.

Important things to note:

There is a Sponsor Family Training that is a one-hour training which we ask sponsors to attend once every four years. This training is designed to give you an overview of the program, what is expected of you as a sponsor, and what you can expect from your cadets. This training will also help familiarize you with the cadet regulations onboard CGA. You will be notified via e-mail once the training is scheduled.

The matching process of swabs to families will occur during July and August. Please bear with us and remain flexible through this process. There will be a meet and greet scheduled on Campus, typically in late August. This will give families an opportunity to formally meet their cadet if they have not already done so. Details on this will also be via email.

CGA Badge
Links from these pages to non-Coast Guard sites are provided as a customer service and do not represent any implicit or explicit endorsement by the United States Coast Guard of any commercial or private issues or products presented there.