To monitor its coasts to detect and prevent crime, such as smuggling, has old traditions. Already 370 years ago, Sweden had a coast guard, "strandridarna". Over the centuries, the line of work has developed and is now a modern agency with far more information and almost 750 employees.
From horseback riders ...
The Swedish Coast Guard goes back as far as 1638 when two horseback riders were employed to check what was happening along the coast. They were stationed in Kalmar and had the task of preventing smuggling and shipwrecking. Operations were the responsibility of the Swedish Customs and the 250 km patrolling area along the eastern coast was on foot or horseback. This method of patrolling dominated the coastguard's operations for more than 300 years until the Second World War.
During the war, smuggling decreased along the coasts and coastal guardian's duties were replaced by new ones, such as monitoring of maritime traffic, searching vessels and people, checking passes and sealing of radio transmitters. After the war the line of work increased and hunting supervision, organized search and rescue, fisheries monitoring and control of safety on ships were new tasks.
In 1971 the Swedish Coast Guard were commissioned by the government to respond to oil spill at sea. In1974 the work was also to include the competence to handle chemical spills, and in 1978 the Swedish Coast Guard was also charged with responsibility for fisheries control and surveillance. In 1982 the Swedish Coast Guards were given official police empowerment at sea and in Vänern and Lake Mälaren.
... To today's Swedish Coast Guard
1988, the Swedish Coast Guard was placed under the Ministry of Defence as a civilian agency. The government emphasised civillian operations at sea by this action, and the importance of mainstreaming the main operator in order to create greater synergy between the authorities responsible and tasks at sea. Since 2015 the Swedish Coast Guard is placed under the department of justice.
Today the Coast Guard is an authority that supervises, rescues and assists at sea and has a close cooperation with several agencies including the Police and Customs.
As a growing EU and an increase in shipping are new challenges for the Coast Guard personnel. The future Coast Guard will face a multicultural society and work for the marine environment and maritime safety will require more and more joint international efforts.