With all the props and fanfare the Navy has been getting after its elite SEALS team took out three Somali pirates holding Captain Richard Philips captive, the Coast Guard decided to discuss their storied tradition of combating piracy by issuing strategically timed press releases. Dated April 20th, a day before the only remaining teenage buccaneer involved in the incident arrived in NYC to face charges, the Coast Guard offered some factoids detailing their historical maritime might:
The first anti-pirate action by the service was made in 1793 when the cutter Diligence drove a pirate ashore in the Chesapeake Bay.
Piracy, however, continued to be prevalent in the Gulf of Mexico during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Its ultimate suppression resulted primarily from the actions of the revenue cutters and a relentless effort to eradicate this menace to shipping.
The service pursued pirates to their rendezvous, attacked, and dispersed them wherever found.
On Aug. 31, 1819, Bravo, a pirate ship commanded by Jean La Farge, boldly attacked the cutters Louisiana and Alabama off the southern coast of Florida. The short action was terminated by the cuttersâ€™ crews boarding the enemy and carrying the decks in a hand-to-hand struggle.
Soon it became too hazardous for the pirates to continue to base themselves along the coast or in the numerous bayous of Louisiana, so they established themselves on Bretons Island.
On April 19, 1820, the cutters Alabama and Louisiana discovered their new hideout and drove the pirates off. The crews of the cutters destroyed everything on the island which could make it habitable. The destruction of this hideout effectively ended pirate bases on U.S. territory.
Nevertheless, piratical craft still made frequent visits to American waters from their bases in the Caribbean basin. This resulted in continued battles with revenue cutters.