The Role of the Coastguard

Able Seaman

The RoleĀ of theĀ Coastguard


The Coastguard was originally created in the 18th Century as the Preventive Water Guard, charged with the apprehension of smugglers. Smuggling had become rife due to the heavy taxes imposed on imported goods in order to fund the war against the French. For many In East Anglia smuggling had become a way of life. In 1821 it was decided to incorporate the Water Guard with The Board of Customs, The Revenue Service and the Riding Officers, into one service, The Board of Customs Coast Guard. Ten years later, The Board of Customs Coast Guard replaced other preventive measures such as the Admiralty's Coast Blockade for the entire coastline of the British Isles. The Admiralty was given the right to appoint officers and boatmen from discharged Naval crews. This created a situation where a pool of competent seamen existed should there be a further call to war. Within a short space of time the Coast Guard had proved their worth with a huge reduction in smuggling although reduced taxes and the cessation of war helped. They were trained as a semi military force with the intention of providing a first defence against invasion, as well as taking charge of wrecks and saving life at sea.

By the early 1900's the Coastguard had become a very important and vital asset to seafarers. With many look out posts positioned round the coastline.

They provided visual signalling and telegraphy, both for the Admiralty and Post Office.

  • Reported fleet movements,

  • Rendered mines safe,

  • Undertook recruitment for the Royal Navy,

  • Reported changes in navigation marks to the Hydrographer and Trinity House

  • Searched vessels,

  • Kept shipping statistics

  • Patrolled the coast

  • Supervised discharge of cargoes

  • Collected dues from coastal vessels

  • Assisted ships in distress

  • Acted as receiver of wreck

  • Operated life saving apparatus and passed distress calls to the RNLI

  • Enforced quarantine regulations

With the arrival of radio, radar and other aids to navigation the need for Coastguard stations and look out posts around our coastline gradually diminished but their role in ensuring safety of life at sea is as important as ever.

0 Comments · 6662 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on August 11 2007


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