General Dynamics awarded $611 million communications contract

General Dynamics Decision Systems has been awarded a $611 million contract by the US Coast Guard to modernise its 30- year-old search and rescue communication system.

General Dynamics Decision Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics, has been awarded a $611 million contract by the US Coast Guard to modernise its 30- year-old search and rescue communication system.

The National Distress and Response System Modernisation Project (NDRSMP), called ‘Rescue 21,’ will reportedly improve the Coast Guard’s ability to detect mayday calls from boaters, pinpoint the location of the source and co-ordinate rescue operations along the 95,000-mile US coastline and interior waterways.

The National Distress System is the radio system that mariners use to communicate with the Coast Guard in emergencies and covers the US 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.

According to General Dynamics, the new system will reduce those gaps to less than 2 percent. Once the system is installed, 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, Florida; Mobile, Alabama and adjacent regions in Seattle and Port Angeles, Washington. By September 30, 2006 the new system will be installed across the US.