Rescue 21 is an advanced command, control and communications system that provides new and improved technology to mariners nationwide. It is the backbone of the National Maritime Distress and Response System. As the marine version of 9-1-1, it facilitates better communication and interoperability in emergency situations. With its advanced direction finding capabilities and increased signal reception, Rescue 21 helps the Coast Guard ‘hear the call’ and quickly respond to boaters in distress, as well as identify hoax distress calls made from land that can unnecessarily occupy Coast Guard assets and manpower.
Capt. Marcus Woodring, Sector Houston-Galveston’s commanding officer, pointed out that calls from a VHF radio received by the Rescue 21 system - unlike “maydays” sent from cell phones – can be heard by everyone on the waterways, as well as allowing the Rescue 21 system to lock in on the position of the transmission, thus enhancing the effectiveness of Coast Guard response efforts. Just within the past month, Good Samaritans in Houston hearing VHF channel 16 alerts have provided help on 17 out of 20 of the Sector’s calls for assistance.
Sector Houston-Galveston’s Command Center Chief Cdr. Lamar Johnson added, “Our mayday call volume has increased since the installation of Rescue 21. The reason for this is simply because of Rescue 21's increased sensitivity and expanded coverage area.”
Rescue 21 has already proven its worth at Coast Guard Sectors across the nation. Acceptance by the Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston brings Rescue 21capabilities to an additional 857 nautical miles of Texas coastline, with a total of over 28,000 miles U.S. coastline covered to date.
“What a great day for the Coast Guard and the people of South Texas,” exclaimed Michael Tangora, deputy assistant commandant for acquisition. “Now operational in Sector Houston-Galveston, the Coast Guard has an advanced, multi-channel digital communications system that can help locate a mariner in distress by providing lines of bearing to the source of the transmission, enabling Coast Guard watchstanders to more accurately direct response assets to the distressed mariner.”
For more information on Rescue 21, please visit the project’s website at http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/rescue21