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Water Ways: Mid-Atlantic Maritime Communities

Coast Guard Lifesaving Stations

Who were the "surfmen"?

The United States Life Saving Service (USLSS) was established in 1854. The service eventually maintained lifesaving stations up and down the Mid-Atlantic coast, approximately every five miles. Manned by "surfmen," these stations were responsible for saving hundreds of shipwreck victims using sturdy row boats, ropes shot from small cannons, and other ingenious equipment. In 1915, the USLSS and the Revenue Cutter Service merged to become the United States Coast Guard. Today, the Coast Guard uses modern technology to aid rescue efforts.

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Coast guardsmen aboard the Jayhawk helicopter and a 41-foot utility boat pictured at left are demonstrating their skills during Coast Guard Missions Day in Yorktown, Virginia. USCG photo by PA2 Jacquelyn Zettles, courtesy the U.S. Coast Guard.