The Hellenic Coast Guard (Greek: Λιμενικό Σώμα-Ελληνική Ακτοφυλακή, romanized: Limeniko Soma-Elliniki Aktofylaki, lit. ‘Harbour Corps-Hellenic Coast Guard‘) is the national coast guard of Greece. Like many other coast guards, it is a paramilitary organization that can support the Hellenic Navy in wartime, but resides under separate civilian control in times of peace. It was founded in 1919 by an Act of Parliament (Law No. 1753/1919) and the legal framework for its function was reformed in 1927. Its primary mission is the enforcement of Greek, European and International law in the maritime areas.
The main activities of the Hellenic Coast Guard are defined in the present legislation and specified within its institutional framework of operation. These activities are the following:
- Ensuring public order, including general policing and traffic policing.
- Law enforcement at sea, ports and coastal areas. Prevention of illegal immigration. Surveillance of the sea, shipping, ports and borders. Drug interdiction.
- search and rescue (jointly with the Hellenic Air Force and Hellenic Navy).
- Safety of navigation (with the exception of lighthouses, racons and buoys, which are constructed, purchased, installed and maintained by the Hellenic Navy Lighthouse Service).
- Protection of the marine environment and response to marine pollution incidents.
- Provision of emergency maritime radio communication services.
- Port operations (excluding port pilots service).
- Merchant Ships and Shipping Companies inspection.
- Representation of Greece in international organizations and the European Commission in matters related to these roles.
In order to perform these roles, the Coast Guard operate a number of patrol boats of various sizes (6m to 60m) and different types (RIBs, coastal patrol boats, offshore patrol boats, lifeboats and pollution control vessels). On land the Hellenic Coast Guard is equipped with 634 vehicles, including patrol vehicles, cars and motorcycles, buses and mini vans, trucks and tanker. The Coast Guard also operate seven airplanes and six helicopters.