Coast Guard Activates New Communication System in Pacific Northwest

SEATTLE, WASH. – The United States Coast Guard announces the switch to new command, control and communications technology monitoring distress calls throughout Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the West Coast of Washington, north of the Quinault Indian Reservation.

Rescue 21 allows the Coast Guard to monitors Digital Selective Calling (DSC) emergency transmissions. When properly registered with a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number and interfaced with a GPS receiver, a DSC distress call provides the Coast Guard a vessel’s identity and exact location, greatly improving emergency response. Rescue 21 also includes advanced direction-finding capability, allowing Coast Guard watchstanders to more accurately locate the source of a VHF distress call. That capability also helps the Coast Guard locate the source of hoax calls, saving valuable time when lives are at stake and conserving taxpayer dollars. Rescue 21 has enhanced playback capability to bolster the chances of deciphering garbled messages, and a network of radio towers to help reduce coverage gaps in coastal areas. Both ensure more distress calls get through to the Coast Guard.

“The system provides a revolutionary leap forward in enhanced command, control, and communications capabilities,” said Capt. Dan Abel, Rescue 21 Project Manager. “Given our long and proud history of standing the watch, such leading edge technology will radically improve the efficiency of search and rescue operations. Rescue 21 offers improvements to interoperability with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and with first responders across all rescue or homeland security missions in the coastal area.”

Proving its mettle following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Disaster Recovery System (DRS) is another vital component of Rescue 21. A fully autonomous, rapidly deployable emergency communications package, it provides voice and data connectivity if a manmade or natural disaster destroys the existing communications infrastructure.

A $730 million acquisition project and the second largest within the Coast Guard, Rescue 21 will replace the Coast Guard’s aging National Distress and Response System, built three decades ago. Once fully implemented, the technology will cover 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline and inland waterways.

By the Numbers

* First life is saved using Rescue 21 system: November 2005.
* First Rescue 21 system commissioned in Atlantic City, N.J., December 2005.
* Two Initial Operating Capacity regions; Atlantic City, N.J., and Eastern Shore (Maryland, Delaware and Virginia) accepted Rescue 21 in December 2005.
* First Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) region accepted Rescue 21 in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida Panhandle, May 19, 2006.
* Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., the second of four LRIP regions, accepted the system June 29, 2006.
* Seattle and Port Angeles, the final LRIP regions, accepted Rescue 21 on December 18th, 2006.
* Rescue 21 covers 2,000 nautical miles of U.S. coastline.
* Full Rate Production commenced in 2006, with nationwide rollout to 36 additional regions slated for completion by 2011.

For more information log on to the Rescue21 homepage.

Source: USCG D13 Public Affairs

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