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Rescue 21

Saving Lives In The 21st Century

Rescue 21 is the U.S. 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 General Dynamics-built Rescue 21 system enables the Coast Guard to execute its search and rescue (SAR) missions with far greater agility and efficiency.

Rescue 21 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, Hawaii, and Guam (See Deployment Map below). In January 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that the Rescue 21 system has achieved the highest level of radio communications coverage.

The first Search and Rescue case using Rescue 21’s advanced capabilities took place on November 13, 2005 in USCG Sector Baltimore, one of the first sectors to receive the system.

As of January 15, 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard has performed 85,167 search and rescue cases using the advanced capabilities of the Rescue 21 system. With this updated tally, between 06/16/2010 and 01/15/2016 the number of SAR cases involving Rescue 21 has an average of 1,074 SAR cases per month.

System Features 

  • Direction-finding capability that provides search and rescue responders with lines of bearing to vessels in distress
  • Digital selective calling support, which allows mariners with DSC-equipped and registered radios to transmit, at the push of a button, their exact GPS position and vital vessel information to the
    Coast Guard and other DSC equipped vessels
  • Geographic display to help identify hoax callers
  • Improved information sharing and coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and federal, state and local first responders
  • Enhanced signal clarity, recording and playback capabilities
  • Simultaneous monitoring and relaying of information over multiple frequencies
  • Automated transmission of urgent marine information broadcasts