United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
AUX S W.svg

United States Coast Guard portal
Active June 23, 1939 - present
Country United States of America
Type Coast guard
Role Civilian Auxiliary
Size 34,000 Volunteers
Part of Department of Homeland Security
United States Coast Guard
Motto Semper Paratus
Colors White, Red, Blue
March Semper Paratus
Engagements World War II
Vietnam War
War on Terror
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation
Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Robert J. Papp
Chief Director of Auxiliary Captain Mark Rizzo
National Commodore Commodore James E. Vass
Racing Stripe U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Mark.svg
Ensign Uscgaux flag.gif

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian volunteer component of the United States Coast Guard ("USCG") and was established on June 23, 1939 by an act of Congress as the United States Coast Guard Reserve, and was re-designated as the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary on February 19, 1941. Congress authorized the Auxiliary to support all USCG missions, other than those related to direct engagement in either law enforcement activities or military combat operations. The support provided by the Auxiliary in these situations can be administrative and it can be in areas that make available, either active or reserve members of the USCG. Once available, the active or reserve member is able to function in these two restricted areas. As of May 2010, there were approximately 30,000 active Auxiliarists.[1]

As a volunteer, an Auxiliarist is not paid a salary and participates in activities at her or his own discretion. Auxiliarists may be reimbursed for expenses incurred when they are under orders from the Commandant. Unlike the active duty and reserve components of the USCG, Auxiliarists are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Auxiliarists who own a boat, aircraft or radio station (amateur or marine band VHF sets) often use their equipment (i.e., "vessels") on behalf of the USCG and are reimbursed for expenses incurred while under mission orders, although membership does not require ownership of a vessel. An Auxiliarist can also serve on a USCG asset once they have obtained proper training. When under orders, the member is recognized as a Federal employee and any approved vessels are recognized as property of the U.S. government. Members use previously-acquired skills and skills obtained via approved training. Examples of previously-acquired skills include carpentry, cooking, radio repair, engine repair, and maintenance, as well as professional skills such as medical, legal and computer skills.


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 boating, aviation, radio communications, or other areas in support of the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Interest in supporting the aims of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Auxiliary

A background fingerprint check and citizenship verification is performed by the USCG of all new members, which is done to conduct a criminal background check and confirm identity before the USCG approves membership. An approved member is provided with an identification card that identifies that individual as an employee of the United States Department of Homeland Security, under which the USCG is a component.

Missions and core values

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.

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 (e.g., Small Boat Course for Local Law Enforcement)
  • Augmentation of Coast Guard billets
  • Bridge administration
  • Auxiliary Air ("AuxAir") - USCG aircraft support
  • Contingency preparedness
  • Licensing of merchant mariners
  • Marine Safety and Environmental Protection (MSEP)
  • Operational support to the Coast Guard (OPS): This includes radio watchstanding (RWS).
  • Port Safety and Security (PS&S)
  • Public Affairs support (PA)
  • Recreational Boating Safety (RBS)
  • Recruiting
  • Search and rescue (SAR)
  • Vessel inspections in partnership with the United States Power Squadrons
  • Waterways management

The Auxiliary shares the Coast Guard's core values, which are Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.[2] The motto of the USCG, including the Auxiliary, is "Semper Paratus"[3] (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 David Pekoske), as well as the former Vice Commandant (VADM Vivien Crea) have publicly stated their support of the Auxiliary,[4] and in fact, the Coast Guard relied heavily on Auxiliary direct and indirect support during hurricanes Katrina and Rita.[5] On September 13, 2006, Thad Allen issued a new Auxiliary Policy Statement,[6] 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[7] and 891 through 894[8] and the Code of Federal Regulations Title 33, Part 5 (33 CFR 5).

Titles and military etiquette

While Auxiliarists wear military style rank insignia to signify office held, they do not use military titles.[9] 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).[9] 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.[9]

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 in grade. Auxiliarists are also expected to return all salutes given.

Auxiliarists may be awarded medals and decorations of the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary,[10] and may wear certain medals and decorations awarded in prior military service.[9]


Auxiliarists are expected to wear a uniform intended for the situation and mission.[11] 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 Assistant Commandant for Operations (CG-ACO) in Coast Guard Headquarters. CG-ACO oversees the Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security, and Stewardship (CG-5) who in turn oversees the Director of Prevention Policy (CG-54), which in turn oversees CG-542.

United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Areas, Districts, and Regions

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: Several 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.[12]
  • 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 Assistant Commandant for Operations (G-O), who reports directly to the Commandant.

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.[13] The CHDIRAUX is the representative of the Commandant and also serves as the Program Manager of the Auxiliary.[14]
  • 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.[15]
  • National Vice Commodore (NAVCO) - Manages the Coast Guard Auxiliary Association (CGAuxA)[16]
  • National Chief of Staff (NACOS) - Appointed by the National Commodore
  • National Legislative Liaison Committee (NLLC) - created by the National Coast Guard Auxiliary Board to keep abreast of legislative action as well as to be official representatives of the Coast Guard Auxiliary testifying during state and local legislative hearings, meeting's with Governors' staff, state and federal lawmakers. The NLLC reports directly to the NACO.[17]
  • Assistant National Commodores (ANACO) - Appointed Directorate Commodores responsible for program directorate of Member Services, Operations and Marine Safety, and Recreational Boating Safety.
  • Department Directors (DIR) - Appointed top officers of the Auxiliary's various National Departments: (A) Public Affairs; (B) RBS Affairs; E (Education); I (Information Technology); L (Legal Affairs); M (Marine Safety & Environmental Protection); O (Operations); P (Personnel); T (Training); V (Vessel Examination and Recreational Boating Safety Visiting Program).[18] Under the DIRs in each department are Division Chiefs (DVC), who in turn supervise Branch Chiefs (BC) and Branch Assistants (BA).

District officers

  • District Director of the Auxiliary (DIRAUX)[19] - 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.[20]

  • 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)
  • 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.[21] In addition, Auxiliarists can earn or be awarded a multitude of ribbons and medals,[22] 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.[23] 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.[24]

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[25] issues News Releases[26] on many of the accomplishments of the Auxiliary, as well as manages the Internal Communications to the Auxiliary through SITREP,[27] its online E-zine, and Navigator,[28] its quarterly magazine. They also produce magazine articles for reprint in any venue on the AuxGuidanceSkills.info web site.[29]

On the community level, the Department of Public Affairs runs the Fleet Home Town News (FHTN) program[30] 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.[31] 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 even has a bilge pump that pumps water like a real boat; that always brings smiles and laughter to all when used. Coastie also has his own built in squirt gun that kids love. 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 colorful 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[32] is charged with maintaining historical documents and a chronological history of the Auxiliary since its inception in 1939.

Daily contribution

The Lady B, a vessel of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, on patrol near the Brooklyn Bridge. The Lady B is a former 82-foot U.S. Coast Guard "Point" class cutter, the USCGC Point Brown (WPB-82362).

On any given day, on average, Auxiliarists throughout the United States will do the following:[33]

  • Complete 62.5 safety patrols
  • Complete 6.2 regatta patrols
  • Perform 10.2 vessel assists
  • Assist 28 people
  • Save 1 life
  • Save $341,290 in property
  • Participate in 100 operational support missions
  • Participate in 48.7 administrative support missions
  • Complete 13.4 recruiting support missions
  • Educate 369 people on boating safety
  • Perform 299 vessel safety checks
  • Attend 70 public affairs functions

See also

External links


  1. ^ USCG snapshot
  2. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: “United States Coast Guard Core Values & Creed”
  3. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Semper Paratus
  4. ^ U.S. Coast Guard, Commandant’s Corner: “A special message to our Coast Guard Auxiliary Members”
  5. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, letter to the Coast Guard Auxiliary (PDF)
  6. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Auxiliary Policy Statement (PDF)
  7. ^ http://www.access.gpo.gov/uscode/title14/partii_chapter23_.html
  8. ^ http://www.access.gpo.gov/uscode/title14/partii_chapter25_.html
  9. ^ a b c d Auxiliary Manual.
  10. ^ http://ribbons.cgaux.info/
  11. ^ http://www.uscg.mil/directives/cim/16000-16999/CIM_16790_1F.pdf
  12. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Auxiliary Unit Directory and Finder
  13. ^ Chief Director of the Auxiliary
  14. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Office of the Auxiliary
  15. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary National Commodore
  16. ^ Coast Guard Auxiliary Association: Welcome
  17. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: National Legislative Liaison Committee
  18. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Departments
  19. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Auxiliary Districts, Areas, and Regions
  20. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Flotilla Officers Structure
  21. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Breast Insignia and Badges
  22. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Current Ribbons of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
  23. ^ Piersystem.com: Presidential Unit Citation (MS Word document)
  24. ^ U.S. Coast Guard's ALCOAST 365/09, COMDTNOTE 16790, 19 Jun 2009
  25. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Office of Public Affairs
  26. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Press Releases
  27. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: SitRep
  28. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Navigator Online
  29. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: AuxGuidanceSkills.info
  30. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Fleet Home Town News
  31. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Coastie
  32. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: The Coast Guard Auxiliary: Past and Present
  33. ^ http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/comrel/factfile/Factcards/AuxGlance.html

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