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Press Release | Jan. 12, 2024

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam experiencing temporary VHF-FM radio communication disruption

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam

SANTA RITA, Guam — U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam advises the public the Joint Rescue Sub-Center is currently experiencing an interruption in receiving communications over VHF-FM radio via the Rescue 21 towers, Jan. 12, 2024. 

This disruption is an unintended consequence of a routine and pre-planned router relocation to enhance our operational capabilities. During the shift, watchstanders transferred the guard to listen to the VHF-FM communications to colleagues in Hawaii, similar to the precautions taken during Typhoon Mawar. However, upon transferring listening back to watchstanders, it was determined neither watchstanders in Guam nor Hawaii could now hear traffic on VHF-FM.

The Rescue 21, the advanced maritime computing, command, control, and communication system designed to locate mariners in distress efficiently, is not fully operational. Technicians are diligently working to resolve the issue. However, at this time, there is yet to be an estimated time for the return to full operational service.

This outage does not impact the effectiveness of SARSAT alerts. The Search And Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system, a critical component of the international Cospas-Sarsat Program, continues functioning efficiently. This satellite-based system detects and distributes distress alerts from 406MHz beacons, providing accurate and timely location data crucial for search and rescue operations. Through this uninterrupted and reliable system, the JRSC remains fully capable of receiving and responding to 406 MHz distress signals from mariners, aviators, and individuals in remote areas.

The Rescue 21 system, a cornerstone of maritime safety, was installed in Guam as part of the nationwide initial phase of installations completed in 2015. This system, known for its robustness, reliability, and capability, significantly enhances the Coast Guard's ability to respond to maritime emergencies. With this system, boaters equipped with digital-selective calling (DSC) can transmit automated distress signals, including vessel location, by pressing a button. The U.S. Coast Guard operates Remote Fixed Facilities or towers in Guam, Rota, and Saipan. 

VHF-FM radio communication plays a vital role in maritime safety. Therefore, the U.S. Coast Guard is committed to restoring this service as swiftly and safely as possible. In the interim, the Service urges mariners to exercise additional caution and utilize alternative communication methods for distress alerts.

"Ensuring the safety of all our waterway users is our top priority," said Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir, public affairs officer for U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. "While we resolve the current VHF-FM radio communication issue, we strongly advise all mariners and waterway users to be prepared with multiple means of communication when heading out to sea. The ocean is unpredictable, and having redundant systems in place is crucial in safeguarding against unforeseen challenges at any time. We are dedicated to resolving this issue promptly and appreciate the cooperation and vigilance of the maritime community during this period."

As more information becomes available, additional updates will be provided. For maritime emergencies, watchstanders can be reached by phone at (671) 355-4824.

More information about the Rescue 21 system is available at


U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam 
The U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam team focuses on maritime safety, security, and stewardship in Oceania. With a primary presence in Guam and Saipan and over 300 members across Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the team maintains a strong U.S. presence in the Micronesia sub-region and adjacent areas, closely tied to local communities.