14 U.S. Code § 2 - Primary duties

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The Coast Guard shall—
(1) enforce or assist in the enforcement of all applicable Federal laws on, under, and over the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States;
(2) engage in maritime air surveillance or interdiction to enforce or assist in the enforcement of the laws of the United States;
(3) administer laws and promulgate and enforce regulations for the promotion of safety of life and property on and under the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, covering all matters not specifically delegated by law to some other executive department;
(4) develop, establish, maintain, and operate, with due regard to the requirements of national defense, aids to maritime navigation, icebreaking facilities, and rescue facilities for the promotion of safety on, under, and over the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States;
(5) pursuant to international agreements, develop, establish, maintain, and operate icebreaking facilities on, under, and over waters other than the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States;
(6) engage in oceanographic research of the high seas and in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; and
(7) maintain a state of readiness to function as a specialized service in the Navy in time of war, including the fulfillment of Maritime Defense Zone command responsibilities.


(Aug. 4, 1949, ch. 393, 63 Stat. 496; Pub. L. 87–396, § 1,Oct. 5, 1961, 75 Stat. 827; Pub. L. 91–278, § 1(1),June 12, 1970, 84 Stat. 304; Pub. L. 93–519, Dec. 13, 1974, 88 Stat. 1659; Pub. L. 99–640, § 6,Nov. 10, 1986, 100 Stat. 3547; Pub. L. 100–448, § 17,Sept. 28, 1988, 102 Stat. 1845; Pub. L. 100–690, title VII, § 7403,Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4484; Pub. L. 112–213, title II, § 217(1),Dec. 20, 2012, 126 Stat. 1556.)
Historical and Revision Notes

This section defines in general terms, for the first time in any statute, all the primary duties of the Coast Guard. It is derived from title 14, U.S.C., 1946 ed., §§ 45,50k–50o, 51, 52, 53, 55, 60, 61, 62, 63, 98a, 104, 261, 301, title 33, U.S.C., 1946 ed., §§ 720,720a, 740, 740a, 740b, title 46, U.S.C., 1946 ed., §§ 1 (footnote), 2 (R.S. 1536, 2747, 2758, 2759, 4249; June 23, 1874, ch. 455, § 1,18 Stat. 220; June 18, 1878, ch. 265, § 4,20 Stat. 163; July 5, 1884, ch. 221, § 2,23 Stat. 118; Feb. 14, 1903, ch. 552, § 10,32 Stat. 829; Apr. 19, 1906, ch. 1640, §§ 1–3,34 Stat. 123; May 12, 1906, ch. 2454, 34 Stat. 190; June 17, 1910, ch. 301, §§ 6, 7,36 Stat. 538; Mar. 4, 1913, ch. 141, § 1,37 Stat. 736; June 24, 1914, ch. 124, 38 Stat. 387; Mar. 3, 1915, ch. 81, § 5,38 Stat. 927; Aug. 29, 1916, ch. 417, 39 Stat. 1820; May 22, 1926, ch. 371, § 6,44 Stat. 626; June 30, 1932, ch. 314, § 501,47 Stat. 415; May 27, 1936, ch. 463, § 1,49 Stat. 1380; Aug. 16, 1937, ch. 665, § 3,50 Stat. 667; Feb. 19, 1941, ch. 8, §§ 2, 201,55 Stat. 9, 11; July 11, 1941, ch. 290, § 7,55 Stat. 585; Nov. 23, 1942, ch. 639, § 2(2),56 Stat. 102; Sept. 30, 1944, ch. 453, § 1,58 Stat. 759; June 22, 1948, ch. 600, 62 Stat. 574; June 26, 1948, ch. 672, 62 Stat. 1050).
This section contains a codification of functions. It sets forth in general language the primary responsibilities of the Coast Guard: enforcement of all Federal laws on waters to which they have application, safety of life and property at sea, aiding navigation, and readiness to function with the Navy. Having been created in 1915 by the consolidation of the Revenue Cutter Service and the Life Saving Service, the Coast Guard has gradually been given additional duties and responsibilities, such as the assignment of law enforcement powers on the high seas and navigable waters in 1936, the transfer of the Lighthouse Service in 1939, and the transfer of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation in 1942. Existing along with these other duties has been that of maintaining a state of readiness as a specialized service prepared for active participation with the Navy in time of war. These various interdependent functions of the Service have not been expressed collectively in any statute heretofore, but it is believed desirable to do so in this revision in order to have outlined in general terms in one section the broad scope of the functions of the Coast Guard. 81st Congress, House Report No. 557.

2012—Pub. L. 112–213amended section generally. Prior to amendment, section related to primary duties of the Coast Guard.
1988—Pub. L. 100–690substituted “United States; shall engage in maritime air surveillance or interdiction to enforce or assist in the enforcement of the laws of the United States; shall administer” for first reference to “United States;”.
Pub. L. 100–448substituted “Federal laws on, under, and over” for “Federal laws on and under”.
1986—Pub. L. 99–640inserted “, including the fulfillment of Maritime Defense Zone command responsibilities.”
1974—Pub. L. 93–519inserted provision requiring Coast Guard to develop, establish, maintain and operate, pursuant to international agreements, icebreaking facilities in waters other than those subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
1970—Pub. L. 91–278improved and clarified text, substituting “on and under” for “upon” in clause preceding first semicolon; inserting “and under” after “life and property on” and striking out “on” after “the high seas and” in clause preceding second semicolon; and substituting “icebreaking” for “ice-breaking” and inserting “, under,” after “promotion of safety on” in clause preceding third semicolon, respectively.
1961—Pub. L. 87–396required Coast Guard to engage in oceanographic research on high seas and in waters subject to jurisdiction of the United States.
Transfer of Functions

For transfer of authorities, functions, personnel, and assets of the Coast Guard, including the authorities and functions of the Secretary of Transportation relating thereto, to the Department of Homeland Security, and for treatment of related references, see sections 468 (b), 551 (d), 552 (d), and 557 of Title 6, Domestic Security, and the Department of Homeland Security Reorganization Plan of November 25, 2002, as modified, set out as a note under section 542 of Title 6.
Annual Report on Coast Guard Capabilities and Readiness to Fulfill National Defense Responsibilities

Pub. L. 107–295, title IV, § 426,Nov. 25, 2002, 116 Stat. 2126, provided that: “Not later than February 15 each year, the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall submit to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a report, prepared in conjunction with the Commandant of the Coast Guard, setting forth the capabilities and readiness of the Coast Guard to fulfill its national defense responsibilities.”

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The most recent Classification Table update that we have noticed was Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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14 USCDescription of ChangeSession YearPublic LawStatutes at Large
§ 2gen amd2012112-213 [Sec.] 217(1)126 Stat. 1556
§ 2gen amd2012112-213 [Sec.] 217(1)126 Stat. 1555

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33 CFR - Navigation and Navigable Waters







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