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Table of Organization of the Coast Guard

This article covers the organization of the United States Coast Guard.

The headquarters of the Coast Guard is on 2100 Second Street, SW, in Washington, D.C. The Coast Guard announced plans to relocate to the grounds of the former St. Elizabeths Hospital[1] in Washington. On September 9, 2009, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and General Services Administration Acting Administrator Paul Prouty held a ceremonial groundbreaking to commence consolidation of a new Design/Build DHS Headquarters at the St. Elizabeths Campus.[2]

Flag officers[3]


The Commandant of the Coast Guard is the Coast Guard's most senior officer, who, by law, holds the rank of Admiral ("ADM"), and is the service's only 4-star Admiral. The Commandant is selected for a four-year term, which may be renewed for additional four-year periods. The current incumbent is Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., who replaced Admiral Thad Allen in a change of command ceremony on May 25, 2010.

Vice Admiral

The Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard is Vice Admiral ("VADM") John P. Currier.

Atlantic area emblem

Pacific area emblem

The Commander of the Atlantic Area and Maritime Homeland Defense area Atlantic is Vice Admiral Robert C. Parker. The Commander of the Pacific Area and Coast Guard Defense Forces West is Vice Admiral Paul F. Zukunft.

Rear Admiral

The Superintendent of the United States Coast Guard Academy is Rear Admiral ("RADM") Sandra L. Stosz.[4] In addition, each Coast Guard District is commanded by a Rear Admiral. Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner became the Commander, Seventh Coast Guard District at Miami, Florida on May 14, 2010. He previously served as the Judge Advocate General.[5]

Rear Admiral Steve Mehling, became the Commander, Fourteenth Coast Guard District Fourteen in May 2010. Prior to this assignment, Mehling had served as the Chief of Staff for the Fourteenth Coast Guard District since August 2008.


The rank of Commodore is no longer used in the regular Coast Guard. The equivalent rank is Rear Admiral (Lower Half) ("RDML"). The chief elected officers of the Coast Guard Auxiliary are referred to as Commodores ("COMO"), signifying their senior elected office, rather than a military rank.

The title of Commodore is occasionally granted to senior officers (typically of pay grade O-6, which is a Captain) who are placed in command of a group or squadron of cutters. It is not a flag rank, but rather a title used to signify command of multiple units afloat.

Senior officers


Coast Guard Captains, like their Navy counterparts, rank immediately below Rear Admiral (Lower Half). Coast Guard Captains command most large operational units—sectors, large cutters, large air stations, integrated support commands, training centers and large headquarters units. Captains also direct most headquarters, area and district staff elements. Most captains have served in the Coast Guard for 21 to 30 years.

By maritime tradition, the commanding officer of a ship is also called "captain", regardless of actual rank held. Thus, a young junior officer commanding a patrol boat is properly called "captain" even if his or her actual rank is Lieutenant, or Lieutenant (Junior Grade). This tradition has also carried over to many shore units. Occasionally, terms like "old man" and "skipper" are also used, though not usually in the presence of the "captain". However, in current usage, the person in charge of a Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary small boat is the "coxswain" (pronounced cok-sun).


Coast Guard Commanders (Pay grade O-5) may head departments in large operational units or staff positions, or they may be the Commanding Officer of a medium-sized unit. The term Commander is also associated with specific commanding officer positions, such as Sector Commander (usually a Captain) or District Commander (usually a Rear Admiral).

Junior officers

The other commissioned officer ranks are (from most senior to least senior)

  • Lieutenant Commander (LCDR): Examples of positions held by a lieutenant commander include executive officer of the International Ice Patrol.
  • Lieutenant (LT): Examples of positions held by a lieutenant include command of a station such as Station Washington, D.C.
  • Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG): Examples of positions held by a lieutenant junior grade include executive officer of a station such as Station Washington, D.C.
  • Ensign (ENS).

Chief Warrant Officers

The Coast Guard has three ranks of Chief Warrant Officers. Chief Warrant Officers are warranted officers and are promoted from senior enlisted ranks. The ranks of Warrant Officer (WO1) and Chief Warrant Officer 5 (CWO5) are not used in the Coast Guard. The three ranks in use are (from most senior to least senior):

  • Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CWO4)
  • Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CWO3)
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CWO2)

An example of a position held by a Chief Warrant Officer is commanding officer of a small cutter, such as the USCGC Abbie Burgess.[6]

A Chief Warrant Officer is not addressed as "Chief"; that title that is normally reserved for the enlisted rank of Chief Petty Officer (E-7). The proper way to address a Chief Warrant Officer is to refer to their title (CWO, CWO3) or to address them as "Mr." or "Ms."

Chief Petty Officers

The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard ("MCPOCG") is the senior enlisted person of the Coast Guard and serves as an advisor to the Commandant. Like the Commandant, the MCPOCG serves a four-year term. The current MCPOCG is Michael P. Leavitt, who assumed this position on May 21, 2010. The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Reserve is MCPO Mark H. Allen.

Chief Petty Officers, often called "Chief", are one of the leadership backbones of the Coast Guard. Chiefs are well versed in most areas of service, and the old adage of "go ask the Chief" holds true today. Chiefs are Officers-in-Charge of Motor Lifeboat Stations, act as Engineering Petty Officers on Patrol Boats, and keep larger Coast Guard cutters on a true head bearing as Deck Watch Officers.

Regional responsibilities

USCG Districts(2007).png

The Coast Guard is divided into two Areas, the Atlantic and the Pacific, each of which is commanded by a vice admiral, with each being designated Maritime Homeland Defense Areas. This includes various districts.[7] The Atlantic Area includes five Districts covering the Eastern United States, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Its headquarters is located in Portsmouth, Virginia. This Area is commanded by Vice Admiral Robert C. Parker, Commander, Atlantic Area/Commander, Defense Force East.[8]

The Pacific Area includes four Districts covering the Western United States and the Pacific Ocean. Its headquarters is located at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, California. This Area is commanded by Vice Admiral Manson Brown, Commander, Pacific Area/Commander, Defense Force West.[9]

The Coast Guard is further organized into Districts, commanded by a District Commander, a one- or two-star rear admiral, with each responsible for a portion of the Nation's coastline.

There are two major activities located outside the United States:

  • USCG Activities Far East (FEACT) is located at Yokota Air Base, Japan. FEACT inspects ships bound for U.S. ports for Port Control and safety reasons. The current commander is Captain Gerald M. Swanson, who assumed command on July 22, 2007.[10]
  • USCG Activities Europe (ACTEUR) is located in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The current commander is Captain John W. Koster.
U.S. Coast Guard Districts
District Region District Office Area of Responsibility
 First District  Atlantic   Boston, Massachusetts   New England states, eastern New York, and northern New Jersey
 Fifth District  Atlantic   Portsmouth, Virginia  Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina
 Seventh District  Atlantic   Miami, Florida  South Carolina, Georgia, eastern Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
 Eighth District  Atlantic   New Orleans, Louisiana  Inland waters of the U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico
 Ninth District  Atlantic   Cleveland, Ohio  Great Lakes
 Eleventh District   Pacific  Alameda, California  California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah
 Thirteenth District   Pacific  Seattle, Washington  Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana
 Fourteenth District   Pacific  Honolulu, Hawaii  Hawaii and Pacific territories
 Seventeenth District    Pacific  Juneau, Alaska  Alaska

Coast Guard Sectors

Within each District, large operational shore-side units known as Sectors are responsible for mission execution within their area of responsibility. Sectors were formed when "Groups" were merged with what were formerly known as Marine Safety Offices. Coast Guard small boat stations are called Stations and report to Sectors. Each Sector Commander reports to the appropriate District Commander.

Coast Guard Air Stations

Coast Guard Air Stations provide aviation support for other Coast Guard activities. The commanding officer of a USCG Air Station reports to the appropriate District Commander.

Staff elements

Acquisition Directorate (CG-9) seal

On July 23, 2007, the Coast Guard instituted a consolidated acquisition directorate, which handles major systems and future equipment acquisitions. It is the second largest staff element at Coast Guard headquarters. Rear Admiral Gary T. Blore, Assistant Commandant for Acquisition, leads the directorate.

The directorate’s programs include all platforms and mission systems designed to modernize and recapitalize the Coast Guard’s fleet of cutters, boats, aircraft, and information technology assets. Under the new organization, these programs are consolidated from the legacy Coast Guard acquisitions directorate and the Integrated Deepwater System Program. The new directorate also brings together the office of procurement management; the office of research, development and technical management; the Research and Development Center; and the head of contracting.[11]


The Curatorial Services Office (CG-92) is located in Forestville, Maryland which includes the U.S. Coast Guard Exhibit Center.[12]


  2. Groundbreaking Ceremony.
  3. Flag Officer & Senior Executive Service Member Bios.
  4. "Superintendent's Biography". USCG Academy Superintendent's Biography. US Coast Guard Academy. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  5. US Coast Guard 7th District Press Release. "Seventh Coast Guard District receives new admiral". May 14, 2010, accessed 6-3-2010.
  6. Cornish, Caroline. "Coast Guard Cutter Changes Command". WCSH-TV, Maine., accessed 7-31-07
  7. "How many Coast Guard Districts are there?". United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  8. USCG: Atlantic Area - Commander Coast Guard Atlantic Area
  9. USCG: Flag/SES Bios - Commander Pacific Area
  10. Dubee, Bryce S. "Change of command comes for Coast Guard." Stars and Stripes, Pacific Edition. July 22, 2007., accessed 7-23-2007.
  11. US Coast Guard Press Release. "Coast Guard establishes new acquisition directorate". July 23, 2007., accessed 7-23-2007.
  12. Curatorial Services Office (CG-92). Retrieved 2010-06-25.

External links

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