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Press Release | April 1, 2024

Uniting Across Seas: JRSC Guam's efforts in Search and Rescue

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam

SANTA RITA, Guam — In 2023, in a relentless pursuit of excellence in maritime safety, the Joint Rescue Sub-Center Guam (JRSC) team once again showcased its commitment to complex and agile search and rescue (SAR) operations across the vast Western Pacific. 

This commitment is epitomized through their recent collaborative exercises with international SAR entities, marking a significant stride towards operational excellence and international cooperation. As JRSC Guam observes the anniversary of the creation of Rescue Coordination Centers (RCCs) on April 1, their innovative efforts and dedication have rightfully placed it as a nominee for the prestigious Geoff Pagels SAR Professional of the Year Award.

"Leveraging our partnerships across this expansive region ensures the safety and security of those at sea. Our area of responsibility is the largest, making the value and performance of our team critical in every operation," states Lt. Kira Adams, JRSC supervisor. This sentiment underlines the crucial role of JRSC Guam in orchestrating complex SAR missions within a vast and challenging operational landscape.

Over the past eight months, JRSC Guam also executed a series of SAR communication exercises with the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Center (MRCC) in Vietnam and the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) in Japan. These exercises have fortified international SAR collaboration and enhanced JRSC Guam's preparedness to facilitate effective rescue operations across its 1.9 million square mile jurisdiction—the largest SAR responsibility zone of any U.S. Coast Guard sector.

The exercises conducted with MRCC Vietnam and RCC Japan involved simulated distress scenarios, testing the limits of current SAR capabilities while paving the way for future technological advancements. Lt. Deb King, one of the exercise organizers, emphasized the indispensable nature of international cooperation, noting, "Search and rescue in this part of the world necessitates not just teamwork but a highly strategic approach. Our success hinges on our ability to collaborate seamlessly with our international counterparts."

Efforts in fiscal year 2023 highlight the JRSC Guam team's unwavering dedication through the coordination of multiple high-stakes SAR operations, including the rescue of two overdue fishermen near Nukuoro Atoll, three distressed mariners off Rota, the five-person Mama Loling crew conducting research off the Northern Mariana Islands, and three divers off Santa Rosa Banks to name a few. These operations saved lives and underscored the center's pivotal role in ensuring maritime safety. In 2023, the JRSC team was directly responsible for coordinating 232 cases, 46 lives saved, 137 lives assisted, and $674,750 in property saved. While the case totals for 2023 might not be as high as some other regions, many of these cases represent multiple days of searching and significant international coordination. 

"The vastness of our region, coupled with limited resources, necessitates an incredible level of cooperation. Our Operations Specialists (OSs) demonstrate remarkable creativity and agility, managing international cases daily. Their ability to adapt and innovate under pressure is truly remarkable," said Lt. Adams, reflecting on the unique challenges faced by JRSC Guam.

As JRSC Guam continues to build on its legacy of excellence in SAR, the recognition as a 2023 nominee for the Geoff Pagels SAR Professional of the Year Award is a testament to their relentless pursuit of safety at sea. The Geoff Pagels SAR Professional of the Year Awards were established in 2023 to honor the legacy of the first Coast Guard civilian SAR Specialist. One award is given to an individual for outstanding contributions to the mission readiness of Coast Guard SAR Professionals. A second award may be given to recognize an individual or team for outstanding professionalism in the planning and coordination of a SAR mission. The team's innovative approach, international collaboration, and dedicated team ensure they remain at the forefront of maritime safety and rescue operations. The recognition is made at the annual Association For Rescue At Sea awards event. 


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.