USA's 'Rescue 21' almost rolled out

Rescue 21 - how it works
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This week the US Coast Guard is to celebrate the acceptance of the new Rescue 21 Communications System at Sector Northern New England in South Portland, Maine.

In 2007 the USA began rolling out what they called '21st Century technology' for search and rescue, a system called Rescue 21.

With 40,625 miles of USA coastline now covered by Rescue 21, only a few outposts like Alaska, Hawaii and some inland areas are still waiting. So what is Rescue 21, how does it operate and why is it better?


As the United States Coast Guard’s advanced command, control and communications system, Rescue 21 was created to 'improve the ability to assist mariners in distress and save lives and property at sea.'

First Rescue 21 is replacing a wide range of aging, obsolete radio communications equipment to include:

* Consoles at Coast Guard Sectors and Stations.
* All remote transceiver sites (antenna towers), as well as the network connecting them to the facilities above.
* The Coast Guard’s outdated system in the Contiguous 48 States and Hawaii.

Rescue 21 USA map
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How it works:

• A call for help is sent
• Direction finding (DF) equipment from one or more high sites computes the direction from which the signal originated, or line of bearing (LOB)
• Distress audio and the LOB are sent to the closest Ground Center(s)
• Appropriate resources are dispatched to respond immediately — even across regional boundaries

By harnessing global positioning and cutting-edge communications technology, Rescue 21 enables the Coast Guard to perform all missions with greater agility and efficiency.

The new system is closing 88 known coverage gaps in coastal areas of the United States, enhancing the safety of life at sea.

The system's expanded system frequency capacity enables greater coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, as well as other federal, state and local agencies and first responders.

It provides an updated, leading-edge Very High Frequency – Frequency Modulated (VHF-FM) communications system, replacing the National Distress Response System installed and deployed during the 1970s.

The system is better because:

* Where feasible, incorporates direction-finding equipment to improve locating mariners in distress
* Improves interoperability amongst federal, state, and local agencies
* Enhances clarity of distress calls
* Allows simultaneous channel monitoring
* Upgrades the playback and recording feature of distress calls
* Reduces coverage gaps for coastal communications and along navigable rivers and waterways
* Supports Digital Selective Calling for registered users
* In the Contiguous 48 States, provides portable towers for restoration of communications during emergencies or natural disasters

Impressive? It needs to be. Today, despite the America's best efforts to prevent maritime accidents, the Coast Guard responds to about 60,000 emergency calls and saves nearly 5,000 lives annually
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