|The economic history of the United States is characterized by a substantial reliance on maritime transportation of goods and people. Waterborne transportation has been important from colonial times to the present and will continue to be so into the future. While nautical transport is generally efficient and economical, it is subject to a variety of hazards and perils. These include bad weather, dangerous obstructions, and collision, to name just a few. A vessel may run afoul of reefs, rocks, or shoals due to environmental conditions or human enor and thereby be wrecked with loss of life and cargo. The story of waterborne transportation in America includes many thousands of incidents where vessels have been damaged, destroyed, or sunk. Intertwined with this story is the related history of maritime lifesaving. This is a significant aspect of marine transportation in which the U.S. federal government has been actively involved since the mid-nineteenth century. These federal efforts are exemplified today by the U.S. Coast Guard's fulfilling its search and rescue mission requirement to aid persons in distress and minimize property damage or loss in the maritime environment.