Coast Guard hosts Rescue 21 acceptance ceremony in Baltimore

BALTIMORE — The Coast Guard accepted its Rescue 21 advanced command, control and communications system for Sector Baltimore in a ceremony at the Coast Guard Yard Thursday.

The Coast Guard created Rescue 21 to better locate mariners in distress and save lives and property at sea and on navigable rivers.

As the maritime version of 9-1-1, it facilitates better communication and interoperability in emergency situations and provides communications coverage out to a minimum of 20 nautical miles off the coastal zone. It has advanced direction-finding capabilities and increased range, which helps Rescue 21 narrow search areas significantly. The system also helps identify hoax distress calls that can unnecessarily divert Coast Guard assets and manpower.

Rear Adm. Ronald J. Rábago, the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for acquisition and Capt. Mark O’Malley, the Sector Baltimore commander said Rescue 21 is enhancing mission execution and marine safety along the coast of Maryland, northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the upper Chesapeake Bay.

Additional remarks were delivered by Rep. Elijah Cummings, who serves as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation; Brig. Gen. Annette Deener, director of joint staff for Gov. Martin O’Malley; and Donald Wilt, senior director, federal-civil programs for the National Systems Division of General Dynamics C4 Systems. General Dynamics C4 Systems was awarded the Rescue 21 production contract in September 2002.

“The Rescue 21 system harnesses today’s cutting-edge technology and enables the Coast Guard to execute all missions, especially its search and rescue mission, with greater agility and efficiency,” said Capt. O’Malley. “The Rescue 21 system has increased communication coverage and offers advanced direction-finding capabilities, which significantly reduce the size of our search area.”

The acceptance formally brings those capabilities to Sector Baltimore and increases the total U.S. coastline currently covered by Rescue 21 to more than 35,000 miles.

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