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CGC Active #17 World's Oldest Active Military Ship - Cruising Earth

CGC Active United States Coast Guard

CGC Active - United States Coast Guard
#17 World's Oldest Active Military Ship

CGC Active is currently ranked #17 in the list of the World's Oldest Active Military Ships.

  • 17

    In Service:
    (58 Years of Service)
    Ship Statistics
    In Service: September 17, 1966
    Weight: 1,145 Gross Tons
    Length: 210.50 Feet
    Beam: 34.00 Feet
    Speed: 18.0 knots / 20.7 mph
    Complement: 75
    Track CGC Active

CGC Active Historical Brief


The United States Coast Guard Cutter Active (WMEC-618) is a storied vessel with a rich history of service spanning over half a century. As a Reliance-class medium endurance cutter, Active has been integral to the Coast Guard's mission, playing a pivotal role in law enforcement, search and rescue (SAR), environmental protection, and homeland security. This historical brief provides an overview of the construction, operational history, notable missions, and lasting significance of Active within the Coast Guard fleet.

Construction and Design

The USCGC Active was constructed by the Christy Corporation in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Laid down in 1965 and commissioned on September 1, 1966, Active was the eighth vessel in the Reliance class, which was designed to perform a wide variety of missions in diverse maritime conditions.

Equipped with advanced navigation, communication, and surveillance systems, Active was designed to perform a wide range of missions. Its armament includes a 76mm OTO Melara gun mount, small arms, and advanced sensors for law enforcement and SAR operations. The vessel's design incorporates a robust steel hull, providing durability and seaworthiness essential for extended maritime operations.

Operational History

Early Years and Missions

Upon its commissioning in 1966, Active was homeported in Port Angeles, Washington. The early years of Active's service were marked by a focus on SAR operations, maritime law enforcement, and fisheries protection in the Pacific Northwest. The vessel's advanced capabilities allowed it to effectively monitor and enforce federal laws in the region's vast and often challenging maritime environment.

Drug Interdiction and Law Enforcement

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Active played a crucial role in the Coast Guard's increasing efforts to combat drug trafficking. The cutter was frequently deployed to intercept drug smuggling vessels in the Eastern Pacific and along the coast of Central and South America. Active's efforts in drug interdiction have led to the seizure of substantial quantities of narcotics and the disruption of numerous trafficking operations.

Notably, in 1988, Active seized the motor vessel "El Dorado," carrying over 70 tons of marijuana, one of the largest maritime drug seizures at that time. This successful operation underscored the cutter's effectiveness and the importance of its mission in the ongoing fight against drug smuggling.

Search and Rescue Operations

Search and rescue operations have always been a core mission of Active. The cutter has responded to countless distress calls and has been instrumental in rescuing mariners in peril. Active's crew has braved severe weather and hazardous conditions to save lives, earning a reputation for their dedication and bravery.

One notable SAR mission occurred in 1997 when Active rescued the crew of the fishing vessel "Altair," which was taking on water in rough seas off the coast of Alaska. The successful rescue operation demonstrated the cutter's capability and the skill of its crew in executing complex SAR missions.

Environmental Protection

Active has also been a key player in environmental protection efforts. The cutter has conducted numerous missions to enforce fisheries regulations, prevent illegal fishing activities, and protect marine resources. Additionally, Active has been involved in pollution response operations, mitigating the impact of oil spills and other hazardous incidents on the marine environment.

Notable Missions and Deployments

Operation Iraqi Freedom

In 2003, Active was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The cutter's mission included maritime interception operations in the Persian Gulf, aimed at enforcing United Nations sanctions and preventing the smuggling of weapons and contraband. Active's deployment to a conflict zone highlighted its versatility and capability to operate effectively in diverse and challenging environments.

Counter-Trafficking Efforts

In recent years, Active has continued to play a significant role in counter-trafficking operations. The cutter's advanced technology and skilled crew have been crucial in intercepting drug-laden vessels, including go-fast boats and semi-submersibles. These operations often involve complex, high-risk maneuvers, showcasing the cutter's agility and the crew's expertise.

Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

Active has also been deployed for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. Following natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, the cutter has provided vital aid, including medical supplies, food, and logistical support to affected communities. These missions underscore the Coast Guard's broader commitment to humanitarian efforts and the cutter's ability to adapt to diverse operational requirements.

Modernization and Upgrades

To maintain its operational effectiveness, Active has undergone several modernization and upgrade programs. These efforts have included enhancements to its communication systems, navigation equipment, and propulsion systems. The upgrades ensure that Active remains capable of performing its diverse missions and extends the cutter's service life.

In recent years, the cutter has received state-of-the-art surveillance and detection equipment, bolstering its capabilities in drug interdiction and maritime security operations. The modernization efforts reflect the Coast Guard's commitment to maintaining a fleet capable of addressing contemporary maritime challenges.

Legacy and Impact

The USCGC Active has earned a distinguished reputation within the Coast Guard fleet. Its contributions to law enforcement, SAR missions, environmental protection, and homeland security have had a lasting impact on national and maritime security. The cutter's storied history is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of its crew.

Active's enduring legacy is reflected in its numerous awards and commendations, including the Coast Guard Unit Commendation and the Meritorious Unit Commendation. These honors recognize the cutter's exceptional performance and the significant role it has played in fulfilling the Coast Guard's mission.


The USCGC Active (WMEC-618) stands as a testament to the Coast Guard's commitment to maritime safety, security, and environmental stewardship. Since its commissioning in 1966, Active has demonstrated exceptional versatility and capability across a wide range of missions. From drug interdiction and law enforcement to search and rescue and environmental protection, the cutter has been a vital asset in protecting America's maritime interests.

As Active continues to serve, it remains a symbol of the Coast Guard's dedication to safeguarding lives, enforcing laws, and preserving the marine environment. The cutter's storied history and enduring contributions underscore its significance within the Coast Guard fleet and its role in promoting maritime security and safety.

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