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For the various meanings of "spar", see Spar (disambiguation).

SPARS was the nickname for the United States Coast Guard Women's Reserve, created 23 November 1942 with the signing of Public Law 773 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.[1] The name is the contraction of the Coast Guard motto: Semper Paratus and its English translation, Always Ready.[2] The name also refers to a spar in nautical usage.

Like the other women's reserves, such as the Women's Army Corps and the WAVES, it was created to free men from stateside service in order to fight overseas.[2] Captain Dorothy C. Stratton was the first director of the SPARS, and she is credited with creating the nickname for the organization.[2] Stratton also pointed out that the name also could refer to the "Four Freedoms"; Speech, Press, Assembly and Religion.[2] The Coast Guard closely followed the Navy WAVES model, with officer training at the Coast Guard Academy. Their goal was 1000 officers and 10,000 enlisted. 1,914 women were trained in boot camp at Hunter College's Bronx campus.[3]

The Coast Guard has named two cutters in honor of the Spar organization; USCGC Spar (WLB-403) was a 180-foot (55 m) sea going buoy tender commissioned in June 1944 and decommissioned in 1997,[4] and USCGC Spar (WLB-206) a 225-foot (69 m) seagoing buoy tender currently home-ported in Kodiak, Alaska.[5]

Although the SPARS no longer exist as a separate organization, the term is still informally used for a female member of the Coast Guard, however, it is not an officially sanctioned term.


  1. A Preliminary Survey of the Development of the Women's Reserve of the United States Coast Guard, p 3
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 A Preliminary Survey of the Development of the Women's Reserve of the United States Coast Guard, p 5
  3. Munch, pp 1-15
  4. "Spar, 1944". Cutters, Craft & U.S. Coast Guard-Manned Army & Navy Vessels. US Coast Guard Historians Office. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  5. "USCGC Spar (WLB-206)". USCGC Spar (WLB-206). US Coast Guard. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
References cited

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