The U.S. Coast Guard was officially established in 1915, but its roots go back to the late 18th century . In 1790, Congress allowed for the building of 10 cutters, medium-sized ships charged with enforcing tariff laws. It was given the no-frills name The Revenue Cutter Service, and the first cutter, the USRC Massachusetts, hit the water in 1791. Perhaps the coolest of these ships was the Naugatuck, a gun battery capable of submerging.
Over the years, Coast Guard ships have helped destroy derelicts, transport dignitaries and government officials, assist vessels in distress, enforce neutrality laws and serve as convoy escorts. The establishment of Homeland Security greatly increased the Coast Guard’s role in protecting US waters and shorelines.