The Coast Guard is headed by the Commandant of the Coast Guard, a position held as of 2007 by Admiral Thad Allen. Coast Guard operations are then divided into Atlantic and Pacific commands, with a Vice Admiral in charge of each region. The commands are subdivided into nine districts (they are not numbered consecutively, which is why there are districts with numbers above nine).
Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Navigation Center
This map shows the location of all nine distrincts of the Atlantic and Pacific Coast Guard commands.
The Atlantic commands:
- District 1 - New England, eastern New York and northern New Jersey
- District 5 - Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina
- District 7 - South Carolina, Georgia, eastern Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
- District 9 - All inland waters in the middle United States, the Gulf of Mexico
The Pacific commands:
- District 11 - Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah
- District 13 - Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington
- District 14 - Hawaii and Pacific territories
- District 17 - Alaska
Each district is divided into sectors. Each sector is responsible for protecting inland waterways and coastal waters within the U.S. Economic Exclusion Zone (any water within 200 miles of shore). For example, Sector St. Petersburg, within District 7, is responsible for the western coast of Florida, plus a large portion of the Gulf of Mexico. Sector Buffalo is responsible for the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario shorelines and a segment of the St. Lawrence Seaway [Source: United States Coast Guard]. The operational centers within each sector are stations, which ships and boats use as a home base, and air stations, where Coast Guard air support crews are based.
The Coast Guard generally uses the same order of rank as the U.S. Navy.
|Source: DefenseLink United States Military Rank and Insignia|
Next, we'll look at the ships and aircraft that the Coast Guard use.