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24 Sep 02. The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday awarded a team led by General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE:GD – News) a $611m contract to modernize the agency’s 30-year-old search and rescue system for U.S. coastal and inland waters.

Dubbed “Rescue 21,” the new system will improve the Coast Guard’s ability to detect mayday calls from boaters, pinpoint the location of those in distress and speed rescue operations along the 95,000-mile U.S. coastline and inland waterways.

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thomas Collins announced the plans to revamp the nation’s primary maritime “911” system by September 2006 and expand tracking to 20 nautical miles off the U.S. coast.

Coast Guard officials welcomed the modernization effort and said Rescue 21 would make it far easier to locate the source of a distress call and use computers to chart far narrower search fields than those which are still being calculated by hand.

General Dynamics beat Lockheed Martin Corp (NYSE:LMT – News) of Bethesda, Maryland, and Science Applications International Corp., a privately held contractor based in San Diego, to win the lucrative contract.

Under the contract, General Dynamics and its partners which include Motorola Inc. (NYSE:MOT – News), CACI International Inc. (NYSE:CAI – News) and BAE SYSTEMS Plc (London:BA.L – News, will begin deploying Rescue 21 in the Atlantic City, New Jersey and Eastern Shore areas in 2003, followed by implementation in Seattle, St. Petersburg, Florida and Mobile, Alabama.All coastal regions will have Rescue 21 by September 2005, with work in inland regions to be completed by late 2006.

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