General Dynamics Decision Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics has been awarded a $611 million contract by the U.S. Coast Guard
to modernize its 30- year-old search and rescue communication system. The National Distress and Response System Modernization Project (NDRSMP), called "Rescue 21," will greatly improve the Coast Guard's ability to detect mayday calls from boaters, pinpoint the location of the source and coordinate rescue operations along the 95,000-mile U.S. coastline and interior waterways.
Admiral Thomas H. Collins, Commandant of the Coast Guard, said, "The General Dynamics proposal was evaluated as providing the best overall value to the government that met all of our requirements. We look forward to working with the General Dynamics team so that together, we can provide our Coast Guard personnel and the American public a modern and more capable maritime coastal communication system."
"The new system will take the 'search' out of search and rescue and help the Coast Guard save lives," said Mark Fried, president of General Dynamics Decision Systems
. "General Dynamics looks forward to working closely with the Coast Guard to integrate this critical communication and situational awareness system which will have an immediate and far-reaching impact on the Coast Guard's ability to carry out maritime safety and security along with its other missions."
The National Distress System is the radio system that mariners use to communicate with the Coast Guard in emergencies. The system covers the U.S. coastline up to 20 miles offshore, including the Great Lakes and other major interior waterways. Currently the Coast Guard cannot hear distress calls from about 14 percent of these areas.
The new system, once fully deployed, will reduce those gaps to less than 2 percent. Using the new system, a mariner in distress will make the equivalent of a '911' call for help, and the Coast Guard will be able to quickly pinpoint the location of the distressed caller, identify the closest rescue vessels and send help faster than it can today.
General Dynamics designed the system architecture under an earlier phase of this program, and then competed for the contract to deploy the system. The system design comprises ground-based installations at approximately 270 Coast Guard facilities, more than 300 radio towers (most of which exist today), new communications equipment on 657 Coast Guard vessels and 3,000 portable radios. Boaters can continue to use the radios they have today to communicate with the Coast Guard.
General Dynamics will deploy the new system to field-test its operational capabilities in the Atlantic City, New Jersey area, and the Eastern Shore region of Maryland during 2003. The next deployments will be in St. Petersburg, Fla., Mobile, Ala., and adjacent regions in Seattle and Port Angeles, Wash. By September 30, 2006 the new system will be installed across the U.S.