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About the Auxiliary


In 1939, Congress established a U.S. Coast Guard Reserve administered by the Commandant of the Coast Guard and composed of unpaid, volunteer U.S. citizens who owned motorboats or yachts. In 1941, Congress created a military Reserve and renamed the original volunteer Reserve as the Coast Guard Auxiliary. In 1996, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1996 was signed into law. This law was the first major legislation affecting the Auxiliary sine its establishment in 1939. These amendments made the following major changes to the Auxiliary.


The purpose of the Auxiliary is to assist the Coast Guard as authorized by the Commandant in performing any Coast Guard function, power, duty, role, mission or operation authorized by law:

  • Promote safety and to effect rescues on and over the high seas and on navigable waters.
  • Promote efficiency in the operation of motorboats and yachts.
  • Facilitate other operations of the Coast Guard.

In addition, the legislation expanded the Commandant's authority to use the Auxiliary to assist other Federal agencies, State authorities, and local governments in areas in addition to recreational boating safety.

The Responsibility of the Auxiliary

The Coast Guard is a military service and is a component of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Coast Guard Auxiliary is a component of Coast Guard Forces like the active duty, Reserve, and civilian components. Thus, the Auxiliary may be referred to and considered to be included under the general organizational umbrella of the Coast Guard. Auxiliarist are not contractually bound, enlisted, or commissioned officers, but are volunteers pledged to serve in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Coast Guard is also charged with many civil responsibilities in addition to its military missions:

  1. Member Services - The first and primary mission of the Auxiliary is to attract, recruit, develop, train, nurture and retain Auxiliarist for assignment to duty. Auxiliarist are trained to accomplish specific missions assigned to the Auxiliary and to support collateral Coast Guard missions on a day-to-day and surge basis.
  2. Recreational Boating Safety - The Auxiliary has mission responsibility to support the Office of Boating Safety with the development and implementation of various programs. This mission includes Auxiliary traditional activities conducted on behalf of Federal, State, and local governments to improve the knowledge, safety skills, and operating environment of recreational boaters. These include but are not limited to:
    • Public Education Programs
    • Vessel Examinations
    • Distribution of literature and information to the boating public.
    • Liaison of the purposes of enhancing Auxiliary Recreational Boating Safety.
  3. Operations and Marine Safety - The Auxiliary has general mission responsibility for providing resources, personnel, and facilities in support of the operations and marine safety, security, and environmental protection missions, and in support of other Coast Guard missions, when requested. These include, but are not limited to:
    • Operations
    • Aviation
    • Communications
    • Marine Safety
    • Aids to Navigation
  4. Fellowship - Fellowship is an essential ingredient in making any volunteer organization a successful one!

Benefits - Why Join?

Knowing that you are helping to save lives -- Either directly through Search and Rescue Operations or indirectly through Public Education and Courtesy Examination Programs. If you enjoy boating, boat with the best!

Eligibility - Who can join?

Membership is open to all citizens of the United States and its territories who are at least 17 years old.


Facility ownership (radio station, aircraft or boat -- see below) is desirable, but not mandatory. Individuals with special skills or interests that may be useful to the Auxiliary (teaching, public affairs, administration and many others) are also welcome.

New members will need to complete the Auxiliary's Boating Safety and Seamanship Course, Sailing and Seamanship Course, or an equivalent test, in order to participate in some programs. Fellow Auxiliarist will help new members as mentors to help understand information about the Coast Guard and the Auxiliary, from chain of command, to special training, to proper uniforms. Auxiliary "facilities" include:

  • Privately owned vessels (boats, yachts, personal watercraft, kayaks)
  • Aircraft (fixed and rotary wing)
  • Land-based and/or mobile radio equipment

If you would like to join Click Here