Hawaii – Coast Guard Community

Brief History

Hawaii Coast Guard Brief History


The Revenue Cutter Lawrence sailed into Honolulu Harbor Sept. 4, 1849, escorted by Native Hawaiians in outrigger canoes. This marked the beginning of the U.S. Coast Guard presence in the Pacific. For the next 90 years, cutters from the West Coast routinely plied Hawaii’s waters on patrols. In 1939, the Fourteenth Coast Guard District was established ashore in Honolulu with 230 personnel.

Today, more than 1,150 active duty, 150 reserve, 80 civilian and 400 Auxiliary men and women make up the Fourteenth District, which boasts the Coast Guard’s largest area of responsibility. The district covers more than 12.2 million square miles of land and sea, with units on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island, and in American Samoa, Saipan, Guam, Singapore and Japan.

The Fourteenth District’s boundaries of responsibility stretch from the Hawaiian Islands and across most of the Central and Western Pacific. The District Commander oversees 25 operational units ashore and afloat throughout the Pacific, which regularly perform missions in maritime safety, protection of natural resources, maritime security, homeland security, and national defense.

In 1939, the Fourteenth District was comprised of one 327-foot cutter, two 125-foot patrol boats, two buoy tenders, five small boats and 64 aids to navigation. Today, the district boasts three 225-foot buoy tenders, four 110-foot patrol boats, two 87-foot coastal patrol boats, four small boat stations, two sector commands, an air station, a Far East command, five detachments and more than 400 aids to navigation.

Every week, Fourteenth District personnel save two lives, respond to 20 vessels in distress, save $60,000 in property, respond to five oil spills and defend vital national interests. The Coast Guard ensures the safety and full economic availability of Pacific ports and regulates access to vessels and waterfront facilities, enforces laws governing the security of ports and anchorages, and supervises the handling of dangerous cargo.

The Fourteenth District enforces federal laws on the high seas and navigable waters of the U.S. and its possessions, including illegal alien and drug interdiction, and the protection of living marine resources. It maintains aids to navigation such as buoys and harbor entrance day boards.

It manages a maritime environmental protection program aimed at preventing, detecting, and controlling pollution in Hawaii’s pristine waters and throughout the Pacific, and also administers a boating safety program (in concert with the Coast Guard Auxiliary).

Responsibilities and Services

Coast Guard Base Honolulu combined elements of the 14th Coast Guard District to become a full-service, support command providing base functions, as well as financial functions. Myriad support functions include: engineering support for ships and facilities, hazardous materials management, housing, comptroller services, galley support and MWR services. The base still maintains a buoy depot and overhauls buoys, as it has done since before 1938. From Hawaii to Guam to Japan, Base Honolulu supports 35 commands throughout the 14th District area of responsibility.

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