Celebrate the Coast Guard’s Birthday With LEGO

Photo: LEGO

Since August 4, 1790, the Coast Guard has been protecting the American public in many ways. From protecting coastal settlements from pirates (really!) to rescue missions, the First Fleet has been on our side for 227 years today. To celebrate their birthday, pick up a LEGO City Sea Rescue Plane, one of a line of Coast Guard-themed sets. Also, take the chance to teach your kids about our often overlooked heroes.

Let’s start with a quick recap of the Coast Guard’s history. First established by Alexander Hamilton to enforce tariff laws, the Coast Guard was first known as the “Revenue Cutter Service,” cutters being the type of ship. Until the establishment of an official Navy in 1798, these cutters were the only defense against naval threats including pirates.

Did you know? In Hamilton, An American Musical, Alexander Hamilton is referred to as the “protean creator of the Coast Guard.”

Beginning in 1848, private services and volunteers received government support in humanitarian efforts to save the lives of shipwrecked sailors lost at sea. On August 14th, 1878, after 30 years of loose organization, private and local rescue teams dedicated to saving the lives of shipwrecked sailors were officially incorporated into the United States Life-Saving Service. The Service included government-funded stations along the coast which were mostly staffed by volunteers, much like a small-town fire department.

The Coast Guard Service Mark. Image: Public Domain

January 28, 1915 saw the merger of these two teams into the modern Coast Guard, though it still recognizes its founding as being 8/4/1790.

The modern Coast Guard:

  • Serves in wars
  • Affects emergency intervention (such as the many operations needed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina)
  • Maintains maritime safety, security, and stewardship
  • Provides search-and-rescue service
  • Enforces maritime law

Now let’s sail to LEGO City!

Photo: Rory Bristol

The LEGO City Sea Rescue Plane has 141 pieces and features an excellently designed rescue plane, a rescue water scooter, and a life boat. The plane itself is 9″x8″x3″ and has two propellers–which spin, of course.

Photo: Rory Bristol

The rescue scooter fits into a nifty hatch in the plane, with a Coast Guard Sailor minifigure to pilot the craft.

Did you know? A Coast Guard operation isn’t allowed to be canceled, only failed. A sailor must attempt the rescue, and can only stop if they actually fail. Even in the worst storm, the Coast Guard will do everything possible to save lives. This spawned the unofficial motto, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back!” Now that’s dedication.

Photo: Rory Bristol

The life boat is home to a stranded sailor holding a flare aloft to help the rescue team locate him. Don’t worry, fellow. Help is on the way!

Did you know? The Coast Guard rescued over 33,500 people stranded and endangered by Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005, weeks after its 215th birthday.

Altogether, the kit took about 25 minutes to put together. It’s a great set for kids with an okay price. At $18.99, it falls outside my 10-cent rule, but it features enough unique and specialty pieces to justify the higher cost per piece.

If you want the experience to last longer, or you want a more complex kit, there are several kits in the LEGO City Coast Guard line:
LEGO City Coast Guard Sea Rescue Plane 60164 (141 Piece)
LEGO City Coast Guard Coast Guard Starter Set 60163 (76 Piece)
LEGO City Coast Guard 4 x 4 Response Unit 60165 (347 Piece)
LEGO City Coast Guard Heavy-Duty Rescue Helicopter 60166 (415 Piece)
LEGO City Coast Guard Coast Guard Head Quarters 60167 (792 Piece)

Rory is a newly appointed stepparent to two awesome geeklings. He also writes for mental health awareness at Terminally Intelligent.