United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

United States Coast Guard portal
Active June 23, 1939 present (77 years, 5 months)
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 Presidential Unit Citation
Coast Guard Unit Commendation
Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Paul F. Zukunft
Chief Director of Auxiliary Captain F. Thomas Boross, USCG
National Commodore Commodore Mark Simoni
Racing Stripe
Flag (1940)

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCG Aux) is the uniformed auxiliary component of the United States Coast Guard (USCG). Congress established the USCG Aux on June 23, 1939, as the United States Coast Guard Reserve. 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. As of 2015, there were approximately 32,000 members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.[2]

Collectively the Auxiliary contributes over 4.5 million hours of service each year and completed nearly 500,000 missions in service to support the Coast Guard.[3] Every year Auxiliarists help to save approximately 500 lives, assist 15,000 distressed boaters, conduct over 150,000 safety examinations of recreational vessels, and provide boater safety instruction to over 500,000 students. In total the Coast Guard Auxiliary saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.[4]


Auxiliarists in 1967 rescuing a boater off an outboard that had foundered during a storm in Long Island Sound, New York.

The development of the single-operator motorboat, and later the outboard engine, during the early 20th century increased the number of recreational boaters operating on federal waters. By 1939 there were more than 300,000 personal watercraft in operation.[5] The previous year the Coast Guard had received 14,000 calls for assistance and had responded to 8,600 "in-peril" cases. On June 23, 1939, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation that established the Coast Guard Reserve, the volunteer civilian component of the Coast Guard, to promote boating safety and to facilitate the operations of the Coast Guard.[5] Boat Owners organized into flotillas within Coast Guard districts around the United States. These volunteers conducted safety and security patrols and helped enforce the 1940 Federal Boating and Espionage Acts. In February 1941, congress created the United States Coast Guard Reserve and renamed the volunteer reserve as the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.[5]

Beginning in 1942, in response to the growing German U-Boat threat to the United States, the U.S. Navy ordered the acquisition of the "maximum practical number of civilian craft in any way capable of going to sea in good weather for a period of at least 48 hours." A large number of vessels, owned and piloted by Auxiliarists with crews made-up of Coast Guard Reservists, made-up the bulk of the American coastal anti-submarine warfare capability during the early months of World War II. As newly constructed warships took over the load, the Coast Guard abandoned the concept. None of the two thousand civilian craft, armed with depth charges stowed awkwardly on their decks, ever sank a submarine, though they did rescue several hundred survivors of torpedoed merchant ships.

Active Duty Coast Guard personnel (left), and Auxiliarists (right), receive a proclamation at New York City Hall declaring June 23, 2014 as Coast Guard Auxiliary Day in New York.

Early in 1973, budget cuts forced the closing of seven Coast Guard stations on the Great Lakes. At the request of the affected communities, Congress ordered the stations to be re-opened and operated by the Auxiliary. The local division captains took responsibility for manning them and ensuring that Auxiliarists' boats were always available to assist distressed vessels. The Auxiliary later took over seven more stations on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

In 1976 the Coast Guard commissioned a study of the Auxiliary by a private research firm, University Sciences Forum of Washington. After interviewing key personnel in the Coast Guard and the Auxiliary and analyzing questionnaires filled out by about two thousand Auxiliarists, the researchers concluded that that Auxiliary was in good health. "In summary," they wrote, "we consider the Auxiliary the greatest economical resource readily available to the COGARD. It performs in an outstanding manner and its personnel are among the most professional group of volunteers in the nation."

Under legislation passed in 1996, the Auxiliary's role was expanded to allow members to assist in any Coast Guard mission, except direct law enforcement and military operations. As of 2004, the Coast Guard Auxiliary had 35,000 members who collectively provided 2 million man hours of service annually.[6]

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.[7] On the 75th anniversary of the USCG Auxiliary, June 23, 2014, the Commandant awarded another Coast Guard Unit Commendation ribbon to all Auxiliarists.[8]

A complete timeline of historical events for the Coast Guard Auxiliary can be found at this link


U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Patrol Boat Ensign

University Programs

The Auxiliary University Programs (AUP) is a Coast Guard Auxiliary-managed initiative established in 2007. Today AUP now has nearly 200 students in 20 units representing over 30 colleges and universities across the United States.[9] AUP prepares undergraduate and graduate students for future public service inside and outside of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. AUP provides opportunities for students to gain boating education, to learn about homeland security, and to gain operational and leadership experience.[10]

Specialized Auxiliary Program

Operational Auxiliary Program (AUXOP): is an advanced training program available to Auxiliarists. This program was created to better assist the Coast Guard to fill needed skill sets and to assist with Coast Guard missions. In order to achieve the Operational Auxiliarist distinction seven courses must be completed.[11]

Additional Examples

The Coast Guard Auxiliary Interpreter Corps provides auxiliarists who are fluent in languages other than English for assignments with both the regular Coast Guard, and other branches of the United States military, to support domestic and overseas deployments that require language and translation assistance. In recent years auxiliarists from the Interpreter Corps have deployed in support of the Africa Partnership Station, Tradewinds, and other missions. According to the Coast Guard, there are currently 440 auxiliarists in the Interpreter Corps, representing 48 languages.[12]

The Coast Guard, which has just one regular military band, relies on Auxiliarist musicians for ship christenings, funerals, and change-of-command ceremonies. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band is formed from both Coast Guard Reserve and Coast Guard Auxiliary members.


The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is divided into three geographic areas: Pacific, Atlantic West, and Atlantic East. The three areas are subdivided into district and divisions, with the smallest unit of organization being the flotilla (not represented on this map).

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is situated in the Coast Guard's Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety (CG-BSX), Auxiliary Division (CG-BSX-1), 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.[13]

The Auxiliary has units in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. Under the direct authority of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security via the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Auxiliary's internally operating levels are broken down into four organizational levels: Flotilla, Division, District and National.[14]

Leadership and staffing

The Coast Guard Auxiliary does not have a military chain of command. There are, however, two 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"). Commanders and vice commanders (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

National officer positions include the following:

31st National Commodore of the United State Coast Guard Auxiliary, Commodore Thomas C. Mallison

District officers

Division officers

Flotilla officers

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 76 Portland, Oregon, Unit Emblem
A U.S. Coast Guard Dolphin HH65 helicopter trains in basket hoisting with Coast Guard Auxiliary vessels and auxiliarists near Los Angeles, California in about 2009.

Titles and duties of flotilla officers are dictated by the Auxiliary Manual.[23]

Staff officers

To carry out the Auxiliary program, DCDRs 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:

Uniforms and insignia


Auxiliarists are expected to wear a uniform intended for the situation and mission.[24] 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 either a silver or 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 aboard a vessel at sea, the military-style insignia of Auxiliary position is generally removed and the organizational insignia is worn. This is done to prevent confusion by foreign entities, other agencies, or hostiles as to who is in command on the vessel.

Auxiliary insignia, titles, and military etiquette

USCG Auxiliary Insignia

Auxiliarists are an auxiliary component who do not have military rank, but they do wear U.S. military style officer insignia that signify their office (e.g., a Flotilla Commander wears insignia similar to a USCG lieutenant, but is not referred to as "Lieutenant") but instead is referred to as "Auxiliarist" unless they are equivalent to a flag officer (Admiral), which are referred to as Commodore.[25] By using distinctive insignia, the Auxiliary identifies and recognizes the increasing responsibility and management responsibilities of elected and appointed leaders and staff officers from lower to higher level. The title most commonly used in official correspondence and reports is "Auxiliarist", and its abbreviation (e.g., Auxiliarist John Smith or AUX J. Smith).[25] Exceptions to this rule are elected or appointed Commodores, who have reached flag positions similar to active and reserve rear admirals and vice admirals and who wear one to three stars depending on their office (e.g., District Commodore, Assistant National Commodore, Deputy National Commodore, or National Commodore); specifically, they may use the term Commodore, and are the only Auxiliarists who use a military style title ("Commodore") before their name,[25] sometimes abbreviated COMO accordingly (e.g., Commodore James A. Smith, National Commodore; or COMO Jim Smith, (NACO)).[26]

Auxiliarists do not normally render military courtesies (such as saluting) to another Auxiliarist, but it is also not against custom to do so. 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 ascribe to the following pledge during induction:

I (say your name), do solemnly and sincerely pledge myself, to support the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, and its purposes, and to abide by the governing policies, established by the Commandant, of the United States Coast Guard.[27]

Medals, awards, and citations

Auxiliarists may be awarded medals and decorations of the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary,[28] and may wear certain medals and decorations awarded in prior military service.[25] There are currently 36 medals and ribbons for which auxiliarists are eligible.

Coast Guard Auxiliary benefits

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary offers a number of benefits. Auxiliarists are allowed access to the Coast Guard Exchange and have opportunities for training, awards, and uniforms. In addition Auxiliarists have access to the Pentagon Federal Credit Union and may access the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Program.[29] An Auxiliarist may be issued an Auxiliary identification card by his/her local Director of Auxiliary (DIRAUX) only after the USCG Security Center completes a Personnel Security Investigation and issues a favorable suitability-for-service determination.[30]

Incident Command System Training

The Coast Guard Auxiliary requires Auxiliarists to take mandatory Incident Command System courses through FEMA's Emergency Management Institute (EMI). Failure to complete the training may make them ineligible to participate in Coast Guard Auxiliary exercises, drills, or response events.[31] Auxiliarists are expected to take EMI courses that will help them to understand the Incident Command System's organization, basic terminology and common responsibilities. They are required to acquire the skills necessary to perform in an ICS support role.[32] Officers, certified coxswains, pilots, or those in a leadership role may need to take additional EMI courses pertaining to the National Incident Management System and/or the National Response Framework.[33]

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. Robinson, Larry (6 June 2015). "Coast Guard Auxiliary helping to keep St. Lawrence River boaters safe". Watertown Daily Times. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  3. About the AUX Contributions
  4. About the Auxiliary
  5. 1 2 3 http://www.history.auxpa.org/
  6. Bonner, Kit (2004). Always Ready: The U.S. Coast Guard. Zenith. p. 25.
  7. U.S. Coast Guard's ALCOAST 365/09, COMDTNOTE 16790, 19 Jun 2009
  8. Zukunft, Paul F. (24 June 2014). "COAST GUARD UNIT COMMENDATION". USCG Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety (CG-BSX) Auxiliary Division (CG-BSX1)--Items of Interest. USCG--Department of Homeland Security. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  9. About AUP
  10. Benefits of AUP
  11. About AUXOP
  12. Coast Guard Auxiliary Interpreter Corps (PDF). U.S. Coast Guard. 2011. pp. 1–4.
  13. "United States Coast Guard Headquarters Organization". United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  14. "United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Organization". United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  15. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Auxiliary Unit Directory and Finder
  16. "National SOP" (PDF).
  17. 1 2 U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Manual
  18. "United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Deputy National Commodores". United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  19. "National SOP" (PDF).
  20. "United States Coast Guard Auxiliary National Staffing" (PDF). United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  21. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: National Directorates (National Site Map page)
  22. U.S. Coast Guard: Auxiliary Districts, Areas, and Regions
  23. U.S. Coast Guard: Flotilla Officers Structure
  24. http://www.uscg.mil/directives/cim/16000-16999/CIM_16790_1F.pdf
  25. 1 2 3 4 Auxiliary Manual.
  26. "USCGAux Insignia of Office: Flotilla, Division, District and National Offices". United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Division. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  27. Pledge
  28. http://ribbons.cgaux.info/
  29. About benefits
  30. Frequently Asked Questions: Auxiliarists in Approval Pending (AP) Status
  31. Auxiliary Requirements
  32. USCGA Training requirements
  33. USCGA Officer Requirements
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