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Guardians of the Sea, History of the United States Coast Guard 1915 to the Present.

"Guardians of the Sea, History of the United States Coast Guard 1915 to the Present" by Robert Erwin Johnson has been published by the Naval institute Press, Annapolis, MD 21402. As a review and narrative history of another maritime Federal agency, it is an excellent source of information, primarily on the agency's leadership and its primary missions-search, rescue, patrol, and enforcement. Its only shortcoming here is a lack of information on its modern role in fisheries patrols and enforcement, although some may have been a bit too recent for the author to include. Still, it does contain information on the agency's work in protecting fur seals and Alaska salmon fisheries from poaching in the earlier part of the century, saving or rescueing fishermen from sinking vessels, ice patrols, etc. And, overall, the work is a fine and interesting sequel to "United States Coast Guard, 1790-1915: A Definitive History" by Rear Admiral Stephen Hadley Evans.

The author describes the merger of the "Life-Saving Service" with the "Revenue-Cutter Service" in 1914, and relates Coast Guard work on enforcement during the Prohibition era, icebreaking and navigations enhancement, marine safety, delivering food and supplies to researchers on various islands, helping salvage or repair wrecked, impaired, leaking vessels, and weather observation/patrolling.

Also of interest is how USCG officials coped with budgetary problems, funding cuts, threats of being abolished, and the problems attendant in growth, adding new technology (i.e., Coast Guard air stations, etc.), being incorporated into U.S. Navy duty during WWI, and more.

Its reentry into U.S. Navy service again in WWII is also described, along with conversion of fishing trawlers to USCG duty in WWII, use of ocean station cutters, and the Coast Guard's expanding role in regards to recreational boaters and boating-in search, rescue, education, and navigation aids (loran). Also related is the USCG transfer from the Treasury Department to the Department of Transportation, and its expanded duties in coping with oil pollution and other environmental protective measures. Included are a number truly outstanding ocean rescue operations as well.

Hardbound, the 412-page volume is indexed, presents many notes and citations, and is a well-researched and thoroughly documented treatise, with enough anecdotal tales to make a lively historical account of an important U.S. maritime agency. It is available from the publisher for $24.95.
COPYRIGHT 1988 U.S. Department of Commerce
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Marine Fisheries Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1988
Words:385
Previous Article:From Lighthouse to Laserbeams, a History of the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1913-1988.
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