14 U.S. Code § 2 - Primary duties
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–50
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. 112–213 amended section generally. Prior to amendment, section related to primary duties of the Coast Guard.
1988—Pub. L. 100–690 substituted “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. 100–448 substituted “Federal laws on, under, and over” for “Federal laws on and under”.
1986—Pub. L. 99–640 inserted “, including the fulfillment of Maritime Defense Zone command responsibilities.”
1974—Pub. L. 93–519 inserted 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. 91–278 improved 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. 87–396 required Coast Guard to engage in oceanographic research on high seas and in waters subject to jurisdiction of the United States.
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.
Pub. L. 107–295, title IV, § 426, Nov. 25, 2002, 116 Stat. 2126, which required report to congressional committees setting forth capabilities and readiness of the Coast Guard to fulfill its national defense responsibilities not later than February 15 each year, was repealed by Pub. L. 113–281, title II, § 221(a)(4), Dec. 18, 2014, 128 Stat. 3037.