During peacetime, the United States Merchant Marine carries out typical civilian functions such as the shipping of imports and exports. In time of war, however, the Merchant Marine becomes an auxiliary of the U.S. Navy to carry troops and war supplies and is officially considered a branch of the military. Members of the Merchant Marine, called “Mariners,” hold U.S. Navy grade or rank during wartime and can receive medals and ribbons for service in conflicts like any other member of the military. Mariners are also subject to the military code of justice including court martial proceedings. The United States Merchant Marine Academy located in Kings Point, New York is classified as a military academy in the same league as West Point or Annapolis. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill which made all Mariners who had served in wartime official U.S. veterans with rights to all services and benefits of any other vet. This act seems fitting, given some historical facts and figures. A ship of the U.S. Merchant Marine was actually the first American ship to engage in warfare on the high seas when it captured the British warship HMS Margaretta in 1775. This event predates the entry of both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard into naval combat. By World War II, service in the Merchant Marine proved to be more hazardous that combat duty in any other branch of the military: The casualty rate for Mariners during the war was 3.9, a rate more than four times that of servicemen in the U.S. Navy or Coast Guard.