Mayday off Oahu tests Rescue 21 system


The Coast Guard station in Honolulu, Hawaii is one of the most recent sectors to install the Rescue 21 VHF DSC rescue alert system. Station Honolulu's first rescue using Rescue 21 was in aid of a fisherman 15 miles off Oahu. The fisherman's 48-foot boat capsized and sank 15 miles south of Oahu at approximately 5:30 am Sunday, May 27.

Rescue 21 allows the Coast Guard to conduct missions and pinpoint distress signals with much better precision than the previous VHF radio system. Rescue 21 will close 88 known coverage gaps in coastal areas. Various Coast Guard sectors have been accepting and conducting missions with support from Rescue 21 since 2005. When the national installation of Rescue 21 is complete it will provide coverage to 95,000 miles of coastline.

From the press release: The mariner was able to transmit a mayday call on VHF channel 16 which was received by Coast Guard search and rescue coordinators at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. He was also able to active an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) which transmitted his position. Additionally, the location of the VHF transmission was calculated using the newly installed Rescue 21 system, which triangulates the position of any VHF broadcast originating near the Hawaii Islands.

Crews aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Coast Guard Station Honolulu, and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point were launched to assist. The RB-M arrived and safely rescued the fisherman. He was transferred to awaiting EMS at Honolulu Harbor for further treatment.

The fishing vessel Robin 2008 capsized and reportedly sank. At this time, there are no signs of pollution.

This mayday call was the first received using the Coast Guard’s new Rescue 21 technology in the Hawaiian Islands. By harnessing global positioning and cutting-edge communications technology, Rescue 21 enables the Coast Guard to perform all missions with greater agility and efficiency.

The Coast Guard advises all mariners to have appropriate safety equipment aboard their vessels, to include life jackets, flares, a VHF radio and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon.

More information regarding Rescue 21 can be found at

By Ocean Navigator