Published On: Mon, Mar 23rd, 2015

U.S. Coast Guard Delivers Search and Rescue System to the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard

DSC_0014WILLEMSTAD - Members of the U.S. Consulate General Curaçao attended a ceremony on March 23rd, 2015 to commemorate the graduation of Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard watchstanders who have completed training on a newly installed search and rescue system. The system, known as "SAROPS" was purchased by the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard from the United States Coast Guard and installed at the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) located on Parera Naval Base in Curacao. The new system will be used by the RCC to conduct search and rescue throughout more than 300,000 square kilometers of the Southern Caribbean.

SAROPS, or Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System, is a comprehensive search and rescue planning system developed by the United States Coast Guard for the planning and execution of almost all SAR cases in and around the United States, major portions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Caribbean. Built into the system is the ability to access global and regional wind and current data sets making SAROPS the most comprehensive and powerful tool available for maritime SAR planners.

A team comprised of Search and Rescue experts from the United States Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington D.C. and SAROPS technicians from the Command, Control & Communications Engineering Center in Portsmouth, Virginia have traveled to Curacao, to install SAROPS and provide training in its use. Senior SAR expert, Rich Schaefer is leading the U.S. Coast Guard team. “SAROPS will greatly improve the modeling and search and rescue tools available to the watchstanders in the RCC and will result in more effective and efficient search efforts by the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard” said Mr. Schaefer. “Our team has been very impressed with the knowledge and professionalism of the watchstanders”.

Commodore Hans Lodder, Director Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard says: “It goes without saying that saving people or ships in distress is one of our most important tasks. Now with SAROPS, I believe that the RCC is better prepared and equipped for Search and Rescue. Although it’s important to have proper tools, the real quality in the end is determined by the personnel”

Consul General Moore was at a conference in Washington D.C. and unable to attend Monday’s ceremony, but he had this to say about the coordination between the Dutch Caribbean and the U.S. Coast Guards: “Many people are aware of the tireless coordination between our Coast Guards to interdict drugs, so I believe it is important to raise awareness of the many other ways in which we work together. This coordination will save lives of mariners in distress. What could be nobler than that”?

To accommodate the RCC’s active schedule, the training is being provided in three sessions. RCC is the 5th foreign national SAR authority to obtain SAROPS. Other national administrations using SAROPS include: Malta, Mexico, Vietnam and Lebanon.

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