Buffalo, N.Y. - The Coast Guard held a ceremony and demonstration Wednesday morning to officially accept the new Rescue 21 communications system at Coast Guard Sector Buffalo.
Rescue 21, the Coast Guards advanced command, control, and direction-finding communications system, was created to more efficiently locate mariners in distress.
Sector Buffalo's Rescue 21 system became operational in September of 2011. Since then, it has been used in more than 618 search and rescue cases, contributing to the Coast Guard's rescue of 139 mariners.
Rear Adm. Michael Parks, commander of the 9th Coast Guard District, and Capt. Steve Wischmann, commander of Sector Buffalo, participated in a brief ceremony and demonstration, showing local officials and media how Rescue 21's state-of-the-art technology is enhancing search-and-rescue mission execution and maritime safety along the sectors entire area of responsibility, which spans from Vermillion, Ohio, to Massena, N.Y.
Congressman Brian Higgins, U.S. Representative for New York's 27th District, was the event's keynote speaker. Capt. John Wood, manager of the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Acquisitions Program at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., also delivered remarks, as did Michael Monteilh, engineering director for Rescue 21 at General Dynamics C4 Systems.
Sector Buffalo becomes the last of the 9th Coast Guard District's four sector commands to accept the Rescue 21 communications system, following similar ceremonies for Sector Detroit, Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., and Sector Lake Michigan, in Milwaukee. "With Sector Buffalo's official acceptance of the Coast Guard's advanced Rescue 21 communications system, I'm proud to say that this cutting-edge technology has been implemented across the entire Great Lakes region," said Parks. "This upgrade is a real game-changer in that it enhances the Coast Guard's ability to hear and quickly answer the call when a mariner is in need across the expansive system of waterways and, with its advanced triangulation capabilities, may help us take some of the search out of search and rescue.
Personnel from Station Buffalo also made themselves available to demonstrate the advanced capabilities of the station's new 45-foot Response Boat-Medium. The RB-M can respond faster than previous boats of similar size with a top speed in excess of 40 knots and has advanced search capability with an installed forward-looking infrared search technology. Additionally, with twin jet propulsion, the vessel is able to respond in shallower water.
"In addition to eagerly accepting Sector Buffalo's Rescue 21 system, I'm also glad to see Station Buffalo making great use of the advanced capabilities of their new 45-foot response boat," said Wischmann. "This new asset allows the crew to get on scene faster, safely operate in heavier weather, access shallower water, and remain on scene longer all things that contribute to their ability to respond and assist mariners in distress."