The life-saving Rescue 21 system increases the speed and accuracy of maritime search and rescue operations for distressed mariners

The U.S. Coast Guard today formally accepted the General Dynamics C4 Systems-built Rescue 21 Search and Rescue communications system now serving Sector Northern New England. With the command center located in South Portland, Maine, Sector Northern New England comprises more than 5,000 coastal miles from the New Hampshire/Massachusetts state line to the Canadian border, including Lake Champlain. Using advanced direction-finding technologies, digital communications and related enabling technologies, the life-saving Rescue 21 system enables Coast Guard personnel to rapidly and efficiently respond to calls from distressed mariners in the region.

"I am extremely proud to have supported the Rescue 21 program since its inception almost a decade ago. This project represents a successful partnership between government and industry," said U.S. Senator Susan Collins. "As we celebrate the inauguration of Rescue 21 in northern New England, we do so with the confidence that this investment will save the lives of Maines fishermen and recreational boaters by improving the Coast Guards search and rescue capabilities along Maines coast."

"The Rescue 21 system supports the Coast Guards maritime safety and overall homeland defense mission to protect the nations ports, coasts and waterways," said Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics C4 Systems. The system currently has 232 radio towers deployed nationwide and constitutes the first nationwide, homeland security network enabling interoperable communications with local law enforcement and first responders.

Rescue 21 is interoperable with other federal, state and local enforcement agency communication systems, enhancing inter-agency cooperation and enabling the Coast Guard and its partners to be more effective responding to security and marine environmental threats. The Rescue 21 towers and command centers are also designed to accommodate additional sensors and command and control equipment, which adds cost-effective capabilities to the Coast Guards maritime security mission.

Rescue 21 by the numbers:

  • Sector Northern New England is the 23rd Coast Guard sector to formally accept the Rescue 21 system
  • Conditionally accepted in November 2009, 1,400 search and rescue cases have been processed by the Sector Northern New England command using Rescue 21 in addition to hundreds of other incident responses including environmental responses, law enforcement activity and living marine resources enforcement
  • Sector Northern New England comprises 10 communication towers, five stations and one command and control center
  • There are currently 232 towers in use throughout the national Rescue 21 system
  • Rescue 21 monitors more than 40,600 miles of U.S. coastline.