New direction-finding equipment helps U.S. Coast Guard pinpoint distressed mariners.

The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay on Tuesday…

The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay on Tuesday officially adopted a new search-and-rescue system meant to pinpoint callers in distress with greater accuracy than ever before.
Representatives with the Coast Guard, California Army National Guard, Cal Fire, Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services and other agencies were on hand at the McKinleyville air station for a briefing on the system, called Rescue 21. Group Humboldt Bay covers 288 miles of coast from the Oregon border to southern Mendocino County.

Despite its remoteness, the area generates some 480 search and rescue cases and 500 vessel boardings each year, and the group services 55 aids to navigation. The new Rescue 21 system will replace the National Distress Response System that dates back to the 1970s.

”Rescue 21 allows us to spend a little less time on the searching part of it and a little more time on the rescue part of it,” said group commander Capt. Christopher Martino.

The system is being deployed throughout the United States, including in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is expected to be fully in place by 2017. The system has been used in the Humboldt region since September, though it only recently replaced the old system altogether.

Rescue 21 uses direction-finding equipment to find mariners in distress, and provides two-way VHF communications to vessels within a 20-mile radius, according to Coast Guard materials. It allows
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rescue personnel to monitor multiple VHF channels, and clarify the recording and playback of distress calls. The General Dynamics brand system also makes coordination with other state and federal agencies easier.

Read the rest of TK’s story at the Contra Costa Times.

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