The United States Coast Guard is the coastal defense, and maritime law enforcement branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the U.S. military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency mission. It operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during peacetime,and can be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Navy by the U.S. President at any time, or by the U.S. Congress during times of war. This has happened twice: in 1917, during World War I, and in 1941, during World War II.
Created by Congress on 4 August 1790 at the request of Alexander Hamilton as the Revenue-Marine, it is the oldest continuous seagoing service of the United States. Its original purpose was collecting customs duties in the nation's seaports.