Coast Guard uses alternative means to monitor marine radios following storm

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CLEVELAND — Coast Guard units assigned to Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., are using alternative methods to monitor marine radio frequencies for possible mariners in distress during extended outages throughout the region.

Due to recent storm damage, the Coast Guard is experiencing significantly reduced radio coverage and communications throughout northern Lake Huron, northern Lake Michigan, and all of Lake Superior.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean McCoy, officer of the day at Coast Guard Station Oswego, N.Y., conducts radio communications with Fireman Jaiden Barnhart, a watchstander at the station, in the station's communication room, July 30, 2013.  Watchstanding is the first and possibly most important qualification for a member of any station to receive.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Bryan Sullivan

U.S. Coast Guard file photo by Seaman Bryan Sullivan

The storms knocked out power for many across the Great Lakes, and have disrupted fiber optic communication lines to Sector Sault Headquarters including its Rescue 21 capabilities.

Rescue 21, the Coast Guard’s advanced command, control and direction-finding communications system, was created to better locate mariners in distress and save lives and property at sea and on navigable rivers.

During the outage, station watchstanders are monitoring the legacy VHF radio channels around the clock, which provides distress coverage throughout the Coast Guard’s area of responsibility in the region but at significantly reduced levels.

There is no estimate yet as to when communications capabilities will be restored.

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