Coast Guard adopts 911 system for mariners | News

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Coast Guard adopts 911 system for mariners
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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Law enforcement officials from several state, local and federal agencies joined a host of dignitaries at the United States Coast Guard base in South Portland to formally accept Rescue 21.

Rescue 21 is an advanced communications and command system that provides blanket coverage of coastal waters at least twenty miles out to sea.  The hi-tech system can help rescue crews pinpoint locations at sea when they receive calls for help, saving time, which in turn will save lives.

"When it comes to search and rescue, seconds due count, here more so than in other regions. The water here is cold, the tides and currents are extreme, and many of our coastal areas are remote and isolated," stated Captain Christopher Roberge, Commander of U.S.C.G. Sector Northern New England.

"It is a system that brings our coastal radio net from the technology of the 1950's - the analog system - to the digital system of today," explained Vice Admiral John Currier, the Coast Guard's second in command.  "The old communications systems were unreliable, hit or miss.  We missed calls.  People undoubtedly perished because of our old system."

The Rescue 21 system utilized a series of towers along the coast, and allows the Coast Guard to generate lines of bearing that help pinpoint where a vessel in distress is.  The technology will also help prevent them from deploying resources in the event of a hoax.

Rescue 21 is now in use along the entire continental coastline of the United States, and is being deployed in Hawaii and Alaska.

The Coast Guard says the new technology raises the importance of boaters having VHF radios.  They say, aside from a life jacket, the radios are the best tool mariners can have to help them survive in an emergency.

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