Coast Guard moves ahead on cellular distress trials

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(MIAMI) —The Coast Guard collaborated with Palm Beach County, Fla., to complete the second leg of three in trials focused on ensuring mariners in distress have the ability to contact emergency dispatch Thursday.

The Coast Guard Research and Development Center is exploring existing technologies, like maritime operated smartphones with Next Generation 9-1-1, to get faster and more accurate location data for Coast Guard search-and-rescue operations. 

The USCG-RDC is examining these technologies with state and county NG 9-1-1 public safety answering point centers to securely share two-way maritime distress calls with Coast Guard's information technology system. After eight months, the five-organization collaboration led by USCG-RDC resulted in a highly successful demonstration in Palm Beach County, Fla.

Dozens of cellular test calls were sent from multiple wireless provider networks from the USCG, USCG Auxiliary and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission vessels.

Tests evaluated integrating these calls into Coast Guard's Rescue 21 Coastal System for search-and-rescue response.

Although these tests were successful, mariners are highly encouraged not to depend on their cellular devices and to continue using VHF radios to communicate distresses to first responders.

The final leg of the project is scheduled to conclude with one final collaboration with the state of Maine in July 2015.

Involved with this project were:

Coast Guard Sector Miami
Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet
Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale
Coast Guard Auxiliary
Palm Beach County
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
General Dynamics C4 Systems
Airbus Federal

By Professional Mariner Staff