The U.S. Coast Guard has conducted approximately 60,000 search and rescue operations since 2006 with support from the General Dynamics C4 Systems-built Rescue 21 system. The nationwide command, control and communications system connects Coast Guard personnel with distressed mariners up to 20 nautical miles or more out to sea.
Rescue 21 is also interoperable with federal, state and local law enforcement and public safety organizations’ communications systems, increasing the Coast Guard’s effectiveness in accomplishing its missions, including critical homeland-security operations. Rescue 21 became fully operational in 32 of 37 U.S. Coast Guard Sectors by 2012; the first life saved by the system was recorded in 2005.
“In addition to being a life-line for millions of boaters, Rescue 21 is a model program that demonstrates how broadband technologies are improving maritime situational awareness, communication and collaboration among multiple government and law enforcement agencies,” said Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics C4 Systems.
Examples of Rescue 21 at work:
- On October 5, 2013, a Coast Guard watchstander in Sector Key West (Key West, Fla.) heard an emergency call from a boat captain traveling from Naples to Key West. A fire onboard had severely damaged the boat’s radio and propulsion system. Before it failed, the radio operated just long enough to send a two-second “Mayday” call. Using position/location information generated by the Rescue 21 system, a C-130 search plane and Coast Guard rescue boat found the stranded mariner and returned the captain and his vessel to shore.
- In July 2013, a boat carrying Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland became lost at sea off Cape Cod, Mass. The captain of the vessel called for assistance; using the Rescue 21 system, Sector Boston located the boat and sent help to escort the wayward vessel back to shore.
- Following hurricane Sandy in October 2012, Rescue 21 systems located along the East Coast helped the Coast Guard coordinate interagency command, control and communications that were essential to disaster recovery.
Rescue 21 comprises 253 towers and 32 command centers in full operation that cover more than 41,000 miles of U.S. coastline, lakes and rivers. When a distress call arrives, the system automatically records the call while direction-finding equipment on the towers accurately computes the call’s location, allowing search-and-rescue operations to begin immediately. The system is also designed to accommodate additional sensors and command and control equipment as it becomes available, which will deliver new and cost-effective capabilities to the Coast Guard.
Press Release, November 6, 2013; Image: USCG