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Why Join

Fulfill important and exciting missions while serving part time. Build your leadership skills and get training that you can apply to a civilian career. Work with a team of committed servicemembers.

Sound interesting? Then a Port Security Unit (PSU) assignment may be the perfect career move for you. PSUs are the U.S. Coast Guard’s dedicated rapid-response expeditionary forces. While most Reservists train alongside active duty units, PSUs consist almost entirely of Reservists. They provide response to natural disasters and security to forward-deployed ports and bases around the world when needed, operating jointly with other U.S. and international allied forces.


Each PSU consists of Reservists assigned to either a waterside or shoreside security or support division. Each PSU operates a number of security boats and fire teams. PSUs offer a range of positions, including boat crews, landside security personnel, a command-and-control element, and support personnel. Specific jobs at PSUs include: 

  • Boatswain’s Mate (BM)
  • Damage Controlman (DC)
  • Electrician’s Mate (EM)
  • Health Services Technician (HS)
  • Machinery Technician (MK)
  • Maritime Enforcement Specialist (ME)
  • Operations Specialist (OS)
  • Shopkeeper (SK)
  • Yeoman (YN)

The bulk of the unit is made up of MEs, BMs, and MKs, however most Coast Guard specialties are also represented. Learn more about Coast Guard specialties:


Most of the time, an assignment to a PSU is similar to other Reserve units, training one weekend a month and four weeks a year. However, for major exercises or contingencies, a PSU may be activated and deploy for several months. And you can choose to augment other PSUs when they activate.


PSUs are intense Reserve units with training experiences and qualification opportunities not found elsewhere and the support of a staff who understands the needs of Reservists better than any. The extra active duty time you'll accrue on deployments and training helps accelerate your eligibility for educational benefits like the GI Bill faster than a traditional Reserve assignment and adds to your retirement plan benefits. 


The Coast Guard has eight PSUs located around the country

  • Cape Cod, MA
  • Hampton Roads, VA
  • Clearwater, FL
  • Kiln, MS
  • Port Clinton, OH
  • Long Beach, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Everett, WA