• Guest Register
    If you are reading this it means you have not yet registered. Please take a second to REGISTER (it's FREE). You will then be able to enjoy all the features of Cruising Earth.

CGC Vigilant #14 World's Oldest Active Military Ship - Cruising Earth

CGC Vigilant United States Coast Guard

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

CGC Vigilant is currently ranked #14 in the list of the World's Oldest Active Military Ships.

  • 14

    In Service:
    (60 Years of Service)
    Ship Statistics
    In Service: January 01, 1964
    Weight: 1,145 Gross Tons
    Length: 210.50 Feet
    Beam: 34.00 Feet
    Speed: 18.0 knots / 20.7 mph
    Complement: 75
    Track CGC Vigilant

CGC Vigilant Historical Brief


The US Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant (WMEC-617) has a rich history spanning several decades, marked by its service in a variety of critical missions ranging from law enforcement and search and rescue to maritime security and environmental protection. This historical brief provides an overview of the Vigilant's construction, operational history, notable missions, and its significance within the US Coast Guard fleet.

Construction and Design

The USCGC Vigilant (WMEC-617) is a Reliance-class cutter, designed and built by the American Shipbuilding Company in Lorain, Ohio. Commissioned on September 3, 1964, the cutter was constructed with a steel hull, providing durability and seaworthiness essential for prolonged operations at sea. The Reliance-class cutters were specifically designed for offshore patrol duties, capable of extended missions in various weather conditions.

The cutter's design incorporates modern navigational and communication systems, as well as armament suitable for law enforcement operations. This includes a 76mm OTO Melara gun mount and smaller caliber weapons for defense and interdiction missions.

Operational History

Law Enforcement and Homeland Security

Since its commissioning, the USCGC Vigilant has been actively involved in law enforcement operations, focusing on drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, and fisheries enforcement. The cutter's capabilities and endurance make it well-suited for patrolling vast oceanic regions and conducting boarding operations to enforce federal laws and regulations.

The Vigilant has participated in numerous successful drug interdictions, seizing significant quantities of illicit narcotics destined for the United States. These operations are part of the Coast Guard's broader efforts to combat transnational organized crime and disrupt drug trafficking networks operating in the maritime domain.

Search and Rescue Missions

A primary mission of the Vigilant is search and rescue (SAR) operations. The cutter has responded to distress calls, conducted maritime patrols, and assisted vessels in distress along the US East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. Its advanced search radar, communication systems, and skilled crew enable rapid response to emergencies at sea, saving lives and ensuring maritime safety.

Environmental Protection and Marine Conservation

In addition to law enforcement and SAR operations, the Vigilant plays a crucial role in environmental protection and marine conservation efforts. The cutter monitors compliance with environmental regulations, responds to pollution incidents, and conducts patrols to protect marine habitats and endangered species. These efforts contribute to safeguarding the marine environment and promoting sustainable maritime practices.

Notable Missions and Operations

Throughout its service, the USCGC Vigilant has participated in numerous notable missions that highlight its operational capabilities and dedication to service:

  • Operation Iraqi Freedom: The cutter deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing maritime security and conducting patrols in the Persian Gulf region. Its presence helped maintain maritime stability and security during a critical period of military operations.
  • Hurricane Response Operations: The Vigilant has played a vital role in hurricane response and disaster relief operations. It provided humanitarian assistance, conducted SAR missions, and delivered essential supplies to communities affected by hurricanes along the US coastline and in the Caribbean.
  • Counter-Drug Operations: The cutter has been instrumental in counter-drug operations, intercepting smuggling vessels and seizing illicit contraband, including narcotics destined for the United States. These operations contribute to disrupting drug trafficking networks and protecting US maritime borders.
  • International Cooperation and Partnership: The Vigilant has participated in international training exercises and partnership initiatives with foreign coast guards and navies. These activities promote interoperability, strengthen maritime security cooperation, and build capacity to address common maritime challenges.

Decommissioning and Legacy

After decades of dedicated service, the USCGC Vigilant remains an active asset within the US Coast Guard fleet. Its contributions to law enforcement, SAR missions, environmental protection, and homeland security underscore its versatility and operational effectiveness. The cutter continues to uphold the Coast Guard's core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty.


The USCGC Vigilant (WMEC-617), a Reliance-class cutter, has played a pivotal role in safeguarding America's maritime interests and promoting maritime safety and security. Since its commissioning in 1964, the cutter has demonstrated exceptional capabilities in law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental protection, and disaster response operations. Its legacy of service and professionalism reflects the Coast Guard's commitment to protecting lives, safeguarding maritime resources, and upholding national security. As the Vigilant continues to serve, it remains a testament to the Coast Guard's readiness to respond to challenges at sea and its enduring dedication to serving the nation.

Ad Blocker Detected - Please Allow Ads On Our Site

It looks like you may be utilizing ad blocking software or another ad filtering technology while visiting Cruising Earth. Certain areas of this site may not work properly because of this, particularly live updates of ship trackers and webcams.

We work hard to strike a balance between content and ads and as a free site we greatly appreciate your support in permitting ads to render. Ads help us cover our server and maintenance costs, which helps us continue to keep this site free to use. You also don't want to miss out on any specials or discounts posted from the Cruise & Travel Industry! For the best site experience please disable your ad blockers for cruisingearth.com, then click the button below. Thank you.

I've Disabled My AdBlocker