Article - Rescue 21 System Passes 100,000 Search and Rescue Missions


The Coast Guard “Maritime 911 system” provides invaluable search-and-rescue support to maritime shipping and recreational boaters. (Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard)

Scottsdale, Ariz. – The U.S. Coast Guard has conducted approximately 100,000 search-and-rescue (SAR) operations since 2006 with support from the Rescue 21 Coastal system built by General Dynamics Mission Systems. Rescue 21 is the Coast Guard’s advanced command, control and direction-finding communications system. The system was created to better locate mariners in distress, save lives and property at sea and on navigable rivers.

By harnessing state-of-the-market technology, the Rescue 21 Coastal system enables the Coast Guard to execute its SAR activities with far greater agility and efficiency. In 2017, Rescue 21 Coastal has been primarily responsible for saving nearly $20 million in property. The system also reduces Coast Guard operational spending by enabling more efficient searches and early identification of hoax calls. The system is operational along the entire Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts of the continental United States, as well as along the shores of the Great Lakes, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Guam and Mariana Islands.

“Rescue 21 Coastal has been a game changer in transforming how the Coast Guard conducts SAR operations,” said Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics Mission Systems. “Our team at General Dynamics is tremendously proud to have partnered with the Coast Guard to integrate the best technology and deliver superior program management to continuously improve Rescue 21 Coastal mission readiness.”

Recent examples of the system in action include:

  • On July 18, 2017, the Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan received a distress call via the Rescue 21 system regarding a 32-foot pleasure craft on fire in the vicinity of Big Sable Point, Mich. The Sector issued an Urgent Mariner Information Broadcast (UMIB) and the Ludington Coast Guard Station deployed a rescue boat. In coordination with another vessel, the Coast Guard rescued all five people on board before the vessel sank.
  • On June 10, 2017, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a distress call that originated through the Tarpon Springs Remote Fixed Facility. The mariner reported that the vessel had four people on board and was taking on water. The Sector issued a UMIB and dispatched its 45-foot rescue boat. A MH-60 helicopter was also dispatched to the scene and deployed its rescue swimmer. The rescue boat successfully rescued the four sailors following the capsizing of the vessel in heavy seas.
  • On May 30, 2017, three people were aboard a 24-foot sailboat when the mast broke. Upon receiving the Rescue 21 notification, Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach issued a UMIB. Coast Guard Station Morro Bay dispatched its 47-foot rescue boat. Upon arriving on scene, deteriorating weather conditions prevented the rescue boat from towing the sailboat. Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco deployed a HH-65 helicopter, which arrived on scene and deployed its rescue swimmer. All three people were successfully hoisted off the sailboat.

When a distress call arrives, the system automatically records the call while direction-finding equipment on the towers accurately computes the call’s location, allowing SAR operations to begin immediately. The system is also designed to accommodate additional sensors and command and control equipment as it becomes available, which will deliver new and cost-effective capabilities to the Coast Guard.

General Dynamics Mission Systems is a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD). For more information about General Dynamics Mission Systems, please visit and follow us on Twitter @GDMS.

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