By PA2 Thomas W. McKenzie
The U.S. Coast Guard’s new command, control and communications system known as Rescue 21 is operational in the heavily trafficked Sector Delaware Bay. As of Thursday, Sept. 13, the system provides full coverage of the sector’s area of responsibility –including Atlantic City, N.J., Philadelphia and the Delaware River area.
Capt. David L. Scott and his deputy, Capt. Ted Harrop command the sector, which became active two months ahead of the Rescue 21 deployment schedule. Delaware Bay is the first in a series of Rescue 21 Full Rate Production (FRP) sectors scheduled to become operational at a rate of one per month during the next 12 months.
Rescue 21 includes a network of towers to provide radio coverage in coastal areas. The system also provides advanced direction-finding capability that enables Coast Guard watch standers to locate the source of distress calls more accurately. This capability also allows the government to locate the source of hoax calls.
Rescue 21 first became operational in 2005 at Atlantic City under the command of then-Group Atlantic City. As part of the Coast Guard’s Sector realignment, operational command of Atlantic City’s and Philadelphia’s areas of responsibility has been consolidated under Sector Delaware Bay.
Until recently, the commander has used Rescue 21 along the coast but had to use the legacy National Distress System to provide coverage for the Delaware River. With the acceptance of Sector Delaware Bay, the entire area of responsibility now is covered by Rescue 21.
Rescue 21, developed by the Coast Guard and prime contractor General Dynamics Information Technology, is the second largest project in the Coast Guard’s Acquisition Directorate. Rescue 21 replaces the aging National Distress and Response system built during the 1970s. Once fully implemented, Rescue 21 will cover 95,000 miles of U.S coastline and inland waterways.