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United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
Seal of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.svg
Active June 23, 1939 – present
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Coast Guard
Type Civilian auxiliary
Size 32,000 Auxiliarists[1]
Part of Department of Homeland Security
Motto(s) Semper Paratus
Colors White, Red, Blue
March Semper Paratus
Engagements World War II
Decorations Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg Presidential Unit Citation
Coast Guard Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Coast Guard Unit Commendation
Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Paul F. Zukunft
Ceremonial chief Captain F. Thomas Boross, USCG
National Commodore Commodore Mark Simoni
Racing Stripe U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Mark.svg
Flag United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (flag).svg
Flag (1940) Flag of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (1940).svg

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCG Aux) is the uniformed volunteer component of the United States Coast Guard ("USCG"). Congress established the USCG Aux June 23, 1939, as the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Not quite two years later, on February 19, 1941, it was re-designated the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Auxiliary exists to support all USCG missions except roles that require "direct" law enforcement or military engagement. Atypical roles include those in which an active USCG member is replaced by an Auxiliarist. This frees the active member to serve in one of the two roles that can't be filled by an Auxiliarist. As of May 2010, there were approximately 30,000 active Auxiliarists.[2]

Auxiliarists are not paid a salary and participate in activities at her or his own discretion. Auxiliarists may be reimbursed for expenses incurred when they are under orders from the Commandant. They are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

A member who owns a boat, aircraft or radio (amateur or marine band VHF sets) can offer their facility for use by USCG. Most costs associated with facility operation, when under USCG orders, are reimbursed. Likewise, the facility becomes the property of the U.S. federal government and the member is considered a civilian employee.[3]

With proper training, Auxiliarists can serve on any USCG asset. USCG will utilize an Auxiliarist's previously acquired skills, too. Nearly any skill that does not involve a firearm can be useful. Examples include carpentry, construction foreman, cooking, clinical medicine, jurisprudence, musician, radio and engine repair, and teaching. Since the organizational structure of the Auxiliary does not have a functional counterpart to computer security, server installation and maintenance, backend development, computer networking, or cyber threat mitigation, computer opportunities are generally limited to data entry, website maintenance, and supporting administrative or public affairs tasks using web conferencing and social media.

Membership requirements

The basic requirements to become a member of the Auxiliary are

  • United States citizenship
  • Minimum 17 years of age
  • No criminal background (minor misdemeanors, such as certain traffic violations do not disqualify)
  • Willingness to participate in Operations (boating, aviation, radio communications), Prevention (Marine Environmental Safety and Port Operations), Public Education (Recreational Boating, Vessel Examinations and Water Safety) or other non-military roles suitable for unarmed, non-law enforcement volunteers.
  • Willingness to support the U.S. Coast Guard and the Auxiliary

An Employee ID is assigned and a Personnel Security Investigation (PSI) is conducted by USCG, pursuant to submitting an application, fingerprints, a dues payment and other paperwork. If a suitable PSI results, the new member is photographed and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issues a non-military identification card.

Missions and core values

Operation Life Ring

Vessel Safety Check Program

Historically, the primary missions of the Auxiliary have been providing free vessel "safety checks," boater education and supplementing other USCG operations. The Auxiliary's four cornerstones are Member Services, Operations and Marine Safety, Recreational Boating Safety and Fellowship (the "glue" which holds the Auxiliary's missions and its members together).

Auxiliarists can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing maritime domain awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education. Additionally, the Auxiliary performs behind the scenes missions in support of USCG operations. Annually, members donate millions of hours in support of USCG missions. This saves the U.S. Coast Guard and Tax Payers over $200 million per year.

Current programs in which Auxiliary members are authorized to participate include, but are not limited to:

  • Administrative support to the Coast Guard
  • Aids to Navigation verification (ATON)
  • Assistance to local government
  • Augmentation of Coast Guard billets
  • Bridge administration
  • Surface, Air and Radio Operations
  • Contingency preparedness
  • Licensing of merchant mariners
  • Marine Safety and Environmental Protection (MSEP)
  • Port Safety and Security (PS&S)
  • Public Affairs support (PA)
  • Program Visitor (PV)
  • USCG Academy Recruiting
  • Search and rescue (SAR)
  • Vessel examinations
  • Waterways management

As part of USCG the Auxiliary's core values are the same as those of active Coast Guard: Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.[4] The USCG motto is "Semper Paratus"[5] (Always Ready).

Relationship to the military

Historically, the USCG has supported and encouraged the involvement of the Auxiliary in the Coast Guard's missions. Both the current Commandant (ADM Robert J. Papp, Jr.) and Vice Commandant (VADM John Currier), as well as the former Vice Commandant (VADM Vivien Crea) have publicly stated their support of the Auxiliary,[6] and in fact, the Coast Guard relied heavily on Auxiliary direct operations and indirect operations support during hurricanes Katrina and Rita.[7] On September 13, 2006, Thad Allen issued a new Auxiliary Policy Statement,[8] which states that "Fittingly, the core strategic purpose of the Auxiliary is to continuously hone its expertise to perform three prioritized functions:

  1. Promote and improve recreational boating safety;
  2. Support Coast Guard maritime homeland security efforts; and
  3. Support the Coast Guard’s operational, administrative, and logistical requirements."

It also states that:

"Every commander, commanding officer, officer-in-charge, and program manager shall work closely with their Auxiliary counterparts to fully leverage the resources, skills, qualifications, and profound dedication that reside within the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Such focused collaboration is essential to our unwavering commitment to mission excellence in serving and protecting the public trust."

Legal basis

The legal basis for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary comes from Coast Guard Auxiliary and Reserve Act of 1941, as amended and recodified by Act of August 4, 1949, as 14 U.S.C. 821 through 832[9] and 891 through 894[10] and the Code of Federal Regulations Title 33, Part 5 (33 CFR 5).

Titles and military etiquette

Auxiliarists wear military style officer insignias that signify their office but do not have military rank.[11] For example, a Flotilla Commander wears insignia similar to a USCG lieutenant, but is never referred to as "Lieutenant." The title most commonly used in official correspondence and reports is "Auxiliarist", and its abbreviation (e.g., Auxiliarist John Smith or AUX J. Smith).[11] Exceptions to this rule are elected or appointed Commodores, who wear one to three stars depending on their office, and are the only Auxiliarists who use a military style title ("Commodore") before their name.[11]

Auxiliarists do not normally render military courtesies (such as saluting) to another Auxiliarist, but an Auxiliarist in uniform is expected to initiate salutes to the U.S. national ensign and friendly foreign flags as well as military officers who are senior to the Auxiliarist's office. Auxiliarists are expected to return all salutes given.

Auxiliarists may be awarded medals and decorations of the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary,[12] and may wear certain medals and decorations awarded in prior military service.[11]


Auxiliarists are expected to wear a uniform intended for the situation and mission.[13] Each auxiliary uniform is identical to a Coast Guard officer's military uniform, with the exception that the buttons and stripes on dress jackets and shoulder boards are silver in color, rather than gold. On dress uniforms, appointed staff officers wear insignia with a red "A" and elected officers wear insignia with a blue "A", while black "A"s are worn on insignia by both elected and appointed officers on the ODU uniform. Auxiliarists are expected to adhere to the same rules of correct uniform wear as regular and reserve Coast Guard officers.

When augmenting Coast Guard personnel, the military-style insignia of Auxiliary position is generally removed and the organizational insignia is worn.


The Coast Guard Auxiliary is situated in the Coast Guard's Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety (CG-542), Auxiliary Division (CG-5421), with the office of the Deputy Commandant for Operations (CG-DCO) in Coast Guard Headquarters. CG-DCO oversees the Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security, and Stewardship (CG-5) who in turn oversees the Director of Prevention Policy (CG-54), who in turn oversees CG-542.[14]

The basic organization of the Auxiliary is:

  • Flotillas: A Flotilla is the basic building block of the Auxiliary. While a flotilla should have at least 10 members, several flotillas have more than 100 members. Most of the day-to-day work of the Auxiliary is performed at the flotilla level. All members join the Auxiliary at the flotilla level and pay their annual membership dues to their flotilla, which normally meet on a monthly basis. Visitors and prospective members are usually welcome to attend.
  • Divisions: At least four (4) flotillas form a Division, which provides leadership and staff assistance to the flotillas.
  • Districts/Regions: There are several divisions in a District. The District provides leadership and staff assistance to the Divisions. Each Auxiliary district is supervised by a Director of the Auxiliary who is a Coast Guard officer usually holding the rank of Commander. Auxiliary Districts generally coincide with Coast Guard Districts.[15]
  • Areas: Three Deputy National Commodores are responsible for the Atlantic Area, which has Eastern and Western halves, and the Pacific Area, respectively.
  • National - The Auxiliary has national officers who are responsible, along with the Commandant, for the administration and policy-making for the entire Auxiliary. These officers comprise the National Executive Committee (NEXCOM) that is composed of the Chief Director of Auxiliary (CHDIRAUX - an active duty officer), the National Commodore (NACO), and the National Vice Commodores (NAVCO). NEXCOM and the National Staff make up the Auxiliary Headquarters organization. The Chief Director is a senior Coast Guard officer and directs the administration of the Auxiliary on policies established by the Commandant. The overall supervision of the Auxiliary is under the Deputy Commandant for Operations (CG-DCO), who reports directly to the Commandant (CCG).

Leadership and staffing

As a civilian organization, the Auxiliary does not have a military-style chain of command. There are, however, three chains of leadership and management. Auxiliarists are expected to adhere to the relevant chain when communicating. There is an elected leader chain and an appointed leader chain (known as "parallel staffing"). Members appointed to the National Staff (see DIR, DVC, BC and BA below) have another chain to which they report. The leaders and vice (deputies) of each flotilla, division and district are elected annually. The national leadership is elected once every two years. Other staff officers are appointed based on skills and level of interest. However, the Auxiliary, because of its close work with the other components of the Coast Guard, inherited the meme of staff officer abbreviations, and these are used extensively in internal documents and reports. All leadership positions in the Auxiliary require membership in a Flotilla of the Auxiliary.

National officers

The national officers are elected biennially, and serve two-year terms starting on November 1 of even years. The national officers are:

  • National Commodore (NACO)
  • Vice National Commodore (VNACO)
  • Deputy National Commodore Operations Atlantic Area (East) (DNACO(O))
  • Deputy National Commodore Operations Policy Atlantic Area (West) (DNACO(W))
  • Deputy National Commodore Force Readiness and Pacific Area (DNACO(R))
  • Deputy National Commodore Mission Support (DNACO S)
  • Immediate Past National Commodore (IPNACO)

The regular national officer positions are:


  • Chief Director of the Auxiliary (CHDIRAUX) - An active duty Coast Guard officer holding the rank of Captain.[16] The CHDIRAUX is the representative of the Commandant and also serves as the Program Manager of the Auxiliary.[17]
  • National Commodore (NACO) – The highest elected Auxiliary leader. Represents the Auxiliary at the National level and advises the Commandant of the Coast Guard by serving on the Coast Guard Leadership Council.[18]
  • Vice National Commodore (VNACO) - Manages the Coast Guard Auxiliary Association (CGAuxA)[19]
  • Deputy National Commodore (DNACO) - The Auxiliary has four Deputy National Commodores (DNACO) who report to the Vice National Commodore. Three are elected, and one is appointed (DNACO-ITP). Each DNACO has a specific set of operational areas he is responsible for, with one or more of the appointed Assistant National Commodores (staff officers) reporting in. Additionally, each of the three elected DNACOs (O, RBS, and MS) are the reporting point for approximately one third of the 16 District Commodores, grouped by geographical area, who are elected every two years to lead their local membership.[20]
  • Assistant National Commodores (ANACO) - Appointed Directorate Commodores responsible for program directorate of Counsel, Diversity, Response & Prevention, ForceCom, Planning & Performance, Information Technology, and Recreational Boating Safety.[21]
  • Directorate Directors (DIR) - Appointed top officers of the Auxiliary's various National Directorates: (A) Public Affairs; (B) RBS Outreach; E (Public Education); H (Human Resources); I (Information Technology); M (Marine Safety & Environmental Protection); O (Operations); T (Training); V (Vessel Examination and Recreational Boating Safety Visiting Program).[22] Under the DIRs in each directorate are Division Chiefs (DVC), who in turn supervise Branch Chiefs (BC) and Branch Assistants (BA).

District officers

  • District Director of the Auxiliary (DIRAUX)[23] - An active duty Coast Guard officer who is dedicated full-time to Auxiliary functions in his or her district. The DIRAUX has sole responsibility for enrolling a new member or for disenrolling an existing member. The DIRAUX is also the final authority in all matters related to his or her Auxiliary district.
  • District Commodore (DCO) - The highest elected level within the district, this office supervises all Auxiliary activities within his or her district, and is elected by the Division Commanders within the district.
  • District Chief of Staff (DCOS) (Formerly District Vice Commodore [VCO]) - The district's Chief of Staff and Assistant to the District Commodore. Elected by the Division Commanders in the district.
  • District Captains (DCAPT) (Formerly District Rear Commodore [RCO]) (two or more per district) - Elected by all Division Commanders and usually supervise a group of divisions in a district. They may also have programmatic responsibilities.
  • District Directorate Officers (DDO) - Some districts appoint DDOs based on the three major areas of Auxiliary activity (i.e., Prevention, Response, and Logistics). They are appointed by the DCO and approved by DIRAUX.
  • District Staff Officers (DSO) - Manage the district's departments and programs; appointed by the DCO and approved by DIRAUX.

Division officers

  • Division Commander (DCDR)- The highest elected Auxiliary leader within a division. Elected by the Flotilla Commanders in a Division.
  • Division Vice Commander (VCDR) - Division Chief of Staff and assistant to the Division Commander. Elected by the Flotilla Commanders in a division.
  • Division Staff Officers (SO) - Manage the division's departments and programs; appointed by the DCDR.

Flotilla officers

Titles and duties of flotilla officers are dictated by the Auxiliary Manual.[24]

  • Flotilla Commander (FC) - The highest elected Auxiliary leader within a flotilla. He/she is elected by the members of a flotilla. Recommends new members for enrollment to the DIRAUX.
  • Flotilla Vice Commander (VFC) - The flotilla's Chief of Staff and assistant to the Flotilla Commander. Elected by the members of a Flotilla.
  • Flotilla Staff Officers (FSO) - Manage the flotilla's departments and programs; appointed by the FC.

Staff officers

To carry out the Auxiliary program, DCPs and FCs may appoint flotilla and division staff officers. The DCO may appoint district staff officers. A staff officer at the flotilla level is abbreviated FSO; at the division level, SO; and at the District level, DSO. Thus, the SO-CS is the Division Communications Services officer.

The list of staff officers, with their official abbreviations, is:

  • Aviation (AV) (district level only)
  • Communications (CM)
  • Communication Services (CS)
  • Diversity (DV)
  • Finance (FN)
  • Flight Safety Officer (DFSO) (district level only)
  • Human Resources (HR)
  • Information and Communication Services (IS)
  • Legal/Parliamentarian (LP) (district level only)
  • Recreational Boating Safety Visitation Program (PV)
  • Marine Safety and Environmental Protection (MS)
  • Marketing and Public Affairs (PA)
  • Materials (MA)
  • Member Training (MT)
  • Navigation Systems (NS)
  • Operations (OP)
  • Public Education (PE)
  • Publications (PB)
  • Secretary/Records (SR)
  • Vessel Examination (VE)


Auxiliarists are able to achieve a wide array of qualifications in both the Auxiliary and the Coast Guard. Many qualifications come with certificates of completion as well as ribbons and devices.[25] In addition, Auxiliarists can earn or be awarded a multitude of ribbons and medals,[26] both Auxiliary-specific and Coast Guard, for service. Since Auxiliarists are not paid for their service, this type of recognition serves an important purpose in acknowledging the volunteer work of Auxiliarists.

On May 25, 2006, President George W. Bush presented the Presidential Unit Citation to the U.S. Coast Guard for meritorious achievement and outstanding performance in action from August 29, 2005 to September 13, 2005, in preparation for, and response and recovery to devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.[27] This award applies to all components of the Coast Guard (i.e., active, reserve, auxiliary, and civilians) since the response to Katrina was an all hands effort.

On June 19, 2009, the Commandant of the Coast Guard awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation to Auxiliary members for "performance...nothing short of stellar" from the period of June 24, 1999, to June 23, 2009.[28]

Public affairs

United States Coast Guard Auxiliary's Public Affairs Program Logo

Auxiliarists are involved in many missions, all over the globe. The Auxiliary's Department of Public Affairs[29] issues News Releases[30] on many of the accomplishments of the Auxiliary, as well as manages the Internal Communications to the Auxiliary through SITREP,[31] its online E-zine, and Navigator,[32] its quarterly magazine. They also produce magazine articles for reprint in any venue on the web site.[33]

On the community level, the Department of Public Affairs runs the Fleet Home Town News (FHTN) program[34] for the Coast Guard. The FHTN program dates back to World War II. It is a program designed to increase national awareness of the activities of sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen through written stories and documented images about them and their personal achievements in their hometown news media.

The Auxiliary also run the Coastie program.[35] Coastie is an animated robotic cartoon character. He has navigation and searchlights, a rotating beacon, a siren, an air horn, and eyes and eyelids that move meaningfully. He talks, plays music, and interacts with the instructor and the children during the presentation. He has a bilge pump that pumps water like a real boat. Coastie also has his own built in squirt gun t. Coastie is 44 inches long, 30 inches wide, 45 inches tall and weighs about 120 pounds. He is painted bright blue and has decals promoting boating and water safety from many boating safety organizations. He flies five flags: the United States Ensign, Coast Guard Operational Flag, Coast Guard Auxiliary Ensign, and the Flag of the State of Ohio, along with a flag denoting boating safety on one side and water safety on the other. He has his own infrared remote CD player to improve his music selection capability.

The History Division[36] is charged with maintaining historical documents and a chronological history of the Auxiliary since its inception in 1939.

See also


  1. Robinson, Larry (6 June 2015). "Coast Guard Auxiliary helping to keep St. Lawrence River boaters safe". Watertown Daily Times. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  2. USCG snapshot
  4. U.S. Coast Guard: “United States Coast Guard Core Values & Creed”
  5. U.S. Coast Guard: Semper Paratus
  6. U.S. Coast Guard, Commandant’s Corner: “A special message to our Coast Guard Auxiliary Members”
  7. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, letter to the Coast Guard Auxiliary (PDF)
  8. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Auxiliary Policy Statement (PDF)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Auxiliary Manual.
  14. "United States Coast Guard Headquarters Organization". United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  15. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Auxiliary Unit Directory and Finder
  16. Chief Director of the Auxiliary
  17. U.S. Coast Guard: Office of the Auxiliary
  18. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary National Commodore
  19. Coast Guard Auxiliary Association: Welcome
  20. "United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Deputy National Commodores". United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  21. "United States Coast Guard Auxiliary National Staffing". United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  22. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: National Directorates (National Site Map page)
  23. U.S. Coast Guard: Auxiliary Districts, Areas, and Regions
  24. U.S. Coast Guard: Flotilla Officers Structure
  25. U.S. Coast Guard: U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Breast Insignia and Badges
  26. U.S. Coast Guard: Current Ribbons of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
  27. Presidential Unit Citation (MS Word document)
  28. U.S. Coast Guard's ALCOAST 365/09, COMDTNOTE 16790, 19 Jun 2009
  29. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Office of Public Affairs
  30. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Press Releases
  31. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: SitRep
  32. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Navigator Online
  33. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary:
  34. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Fleet Home Town News
  35. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Coastie
  36. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: The Coast Guard Auxiliary: Past and Present

External links

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