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The Coast Guard accepted the final tower in the Rescue 21 system Oct. 10, 2017 completing a more than 20-year design and installation process that improved search and rescue communications infrastructure throughout the U.S. and its territories.

The Coast Guard conditionally accepted and began operating the completed Rescue 21 system in the Western Rivers region in June 2017. The Western Rivers System provides coverage for parts of the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio Rivers and their major tributaries.

The Coast Guard conditionally accepted and began operating the Rescue 21 system in the Upper Mississippi sector, which covers portions of the Mississippi, Illinois, Missouri and St. Croix rivers and extends across seven states, May 2, 2017.

Rescue 21 for Boaters

Rescue 21 enables the Coast Guard to execute its search and rescue missions with greater agility and efficiency.


  • Improved information sharing and coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and federal, state and local first responders
  • Geographic display to assist in identifying hoax callers, conserving valuable response resources
  • Digital-selective calling support, which allows mariners in distress with DSC-equipped 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
  • Improved clarity, recording and playback capabilities for all communications
  • Simultaneous monitoring and relaying of information over multiple radio frequencies
  • Portable tower communications equipment for use during emergencies and natural disasters
  • Automated transmission of urgent marine information broadcasts