On-scene leadership and initiative have defined Coast Guard boat crews since their wooden vessels were powered exclusively by oars. Their response model also has changed little over the past two centuries: receive a report of distress or a breach of law, launch a boat with people and equipment capable of stabilizing the situation, and once on scene, allow those experienced and trusted leaders with a first-person view to make decisions and take actions that bring about the best possible resolution. It is a model that has proved successful and scalable, viable for cases requiring only a lone boat as well as for more complex incidents that necessitate the sortie of all available vessels.
Don't Micromanage Response Boats
By Chief Boatswain's Mate Phillip Null, U.S. Coast Guard
Coast Guard districts and sectors should provide boat crews with objectives and support, but authority in most cases must rest with those risking their lives and performing the work at the scene.