The U.S. Auxiliary Coast Guard: A Short Overview

The U.S. Auxiliary Coast Guard was founded by two acts of congress, first in1939 to replace the Coast Guard Reserve, and then in 1941 to establish the organization to promote and protect recreational boating safety in all coastal regions of the 50 states and its territories.

As a national organization, it is divided into regional districts which are then designated to be set up by townships and identified as flotillas. The motto of a flotilla is “Semper Paratus” – always ready – in peace or wartime.

At the start of World War II, 50,000 members with their vessels joined the war effort under the National Terrorist Advisory System. Perhaps they had been motivated by the precedent of England’s military implementation of small craft evacuation at Dunkirk. Thousands of allied troops surrounded by German forces were rescued and ferried across the English Channel to safety in Britain. Not unlike the Minutemen of Concord and Lexington, the miraculous nautical activation of small civilian craft in a voluntary flotilla may have set a military precedent that could well be implemented today in an emergency.

The Marion Flotilla here was among the first in the district national system to be formed and is designated as No. 1 in the Southern New England region. Five years ago, it secured space for its activities at 13 Atlantis Drive near Route 6. Space was available there to teach water safety and promote Southcoast events. One event is the popular annual and landmark gathering for the Buzzards Bay Swim.

They have also adopted the Ned Point Lighthouse to be open for guided tours, and also decorated and operated for holidays, as in my illustration. Local lighthouses today stand as landmark sentinels of south shore protection history. The south shore from Dartmouth, New Bedford, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion, and Wareham is a heritage of their operation.

The adoption of Ned’s Point light by the Auxiliary sets a fine local precedent to augment existing and historic recognition and appreciation.

Marion’s main function, like other flotillas, is to provide services, including launching an annual safe boating week. This recognition is augmented by available boat owner safety check off lists and voluntary dockside safety inspections. Also, inspections by boat owners can be scheduled by appointment.

With an eye for the future, there is a growing program for youth instruction with qualified teenage higher learning opportunities and with college credits for achievement. There is also a healthy emphasis on physical fitness, conducive to effective image of appearance.

With the last few years of expanded paddleboats and kite boarding along the coast, effective safety flotation devices have graduated and improved from the past life jacket standards. Many accidents today seem have resulted from misfits of misuses of flotation precaution equipment. And most drownings today are consequently closer to the shore rather than far at sea.

The Auxiliary operates on the premise that just one disregard for a proven safety rule or regulation can quickly lead to a life threatening or fatal accident. Carelessness can also change victims’ lives and the well-being of family or friends. That such a tragedy could have been avoided by simply following basic rules always brings unforgettable blame, but after it is too late. Subsequently, let me leave with you with a message of understanding and respect for the U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary overview. They deserve recognition and credit for all the many incidents that did not happen through their efforts.

By George B. Emmons

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