$611 million radio contract: ‘Rescue 21’ to take the ‘search’ out of ‘search and rescue’ in the 21st century
Rescue 21, soon to be the primary maritime “9-1-1” system for U.S. coastal waters and navigable rivers and lakes, was announced Sept. 24 with the award of a new contract for production, deployment and support to Coast Guard units throughout the United States.
The award for the $611 million contract to General Dynamics of Scottsdale, Ariz., was announced by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thomas H. Collins.
“Rescue 21 will help take the search out of search and rescue in the 21st century,” said Vice Adm. James D. Hull, Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander.
Rescue 21 will increase detection and localization of distress calls and eliminate known radio coverage gaps. The Coast Guard said that the improvement would benefit the maritime community from South Carolina to the Florida Keys to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as Seventh Coast Guard District personnel conduct more than 7,000 search and rescue cases a year.
The Coast Guard said that its current system is difficult to maintain and is inadequate to meet the future safety requirements of the growing marine traffic. The military organization described the project to modernize the nation’s maritime 9-1-1 system as “an absolute must” to ensure America’s boaters remain safe. The new system is expected to help minimize the time that search and rescue teams spend looking for people in distress, while maximizing communications. This, in turn, would help the Coast Guard to save more lives.
“We are excited about the Coast Guard’s forward thinking initiative to modernize their distress response technology to meet the growing needs of the marine community for the 21st century,” said Frank Herhold, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. “The recreational boating community recognizes the value of the Coast Guard in South Florida and is glad to see it being funded with the resources it needs to ensure safety of life at sea.”
Rescue 21 will also assist the Coast Guard in enforcing laws, preventing terrorism and security threats, and reducing damage to the environment. Improved awareness of unit location and communications connectivity to other agencies will enhance homeland security.
The Rescue 21 deployment will begin in the northeastern regions. Concurrently, the system will be deployed in the St. Petersburg, Fla., region. All regions are scheduled to be completed by September 2006.