Coast Guard launches Rescue 21 system for finding distressed boaters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., 27 Dec. 2005. The U.S. Coast Guard has accepted and activated Rescue 21, a new command, control and communications system produced by General Dynamics C4 Systems that brings 21st century technology to its search and rescue mission.

Through a system of integrated wireless communications and location finding features, Rescue 21 enables the Coast Guard to quickly locate boaters in emergency situations, even if their "mayday" call is only seconds in length.

Rescue 21 improves the Coast Guard's ability to locate and assist distressed boaters by integrating digital technology for better direction finding capability, which improves response time and reliability. It uses towers along the coastline to increase communications coverage in coastal areas and improves interoperability with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and with first responders.

Rescue 21 is currently installed in regions along the Eastern seaboard (from Manasquan, N.J., to Belle Haven, Va.). Once fully implemented, it will be the Coast Guard's primary command and control system along the 95,000 miles of coastline for which it is responsible.

"It's not only a life-saving maritime safety system to transform the Coast Guard's ability to protect boaters and save lives at sea, it's also a vital tool to enhance our day-to-day operations," said Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thomas Collins, who also pointed out that the new system moves the Coast Guard "a quantum leap forward" in command and control capability.

Rescue 21 will replace the Coast Guard's aging National Distress and Response System (NDRS) built during the 1970s. The new system was officially commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard on December 20 at a ceremony at the Coast Guard Air Station in Atlantic City, N.J. The nationwide rollout to 44 additional regions is slated for completion by 2011.

"Rescue 21 is a major component the US Coast Guard has needed for a very long time and is an absolute key aspect of search and rescue as it was originally intended. As the Coast Guard undertakes a greater role in protecting our waters and borders, Rescue 21 will significantly contribute to the success of their homeland security mission," said Chairman Frank LoBiondo (NR-2nd/N.J.) of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

** First Rescue

Maryland resident George Strawn credits the Coast Guard and the new system for his rescue. The boat in which he and two friends were fishing capsized off the coast of Ocean City, Md., in November. The boaters were able to send a mayday call before the boat overturned but Strawn was left clinging to the side of the boat about three miles outside Ocean City Inlet. Unknown to the boaters at the time, the Coast Guard was tapping into the advanced direction finding capability of the Rescue 21 system to access the location coordinates captured from the mayday call.

"We could see them circling north of us. Then all of a sudden instead of continuing north, they came directly toward us. They had contacted Chincoteague (Va.) using Rescue 21 coordinates that sent them straight to us. So Rescue 21 and some good Coast Guard personnel got me out of the water," Strawn said.

General Dynamics C4 Systems is a leading integrator of secure communication and information systems and technology. With more than 11,000 employees worldwide, the company specializes in command and control, communications networking, space systems, computing and information assurance for defense, government and select commercial customers in the United States and abroad.

General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 71,900 people worldwide and had 2004 revenue of $19.2 billion. The company is a market leader in mission-critical information systems and technologies; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and business aviation. For more information, see

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August 2015
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