September 14, 2001
Coast Guard Small Boat Station Search and Rescue Program
Project ID: MH-2001-094
As directed by the Conference Report on the Department’s FY 2001 Appropriations law, we reviewed the readiness of the Coast Guard's small boat search and rescue (SAR) program, focusing on the status, historical trends, and plans for program staffing, training, equipment, and funding. We found the readiness of small boat SAR stations were impacted by: 1) staff shortages that require boat crews work an average of 84 hours per week; 2) a significant decline in the number of experienced personnel; 3) the lack of a formal training program for boatswain's mates who comprise the majority of SAR boat crews; 4) a high percentage of rescue boats found “Not Ready for Sea” during inspections; 5) the lack of a plan to replace the Coast Guard’s aging fleet of 41-foot SAR utility boats; and 6) the use of non-standard boats that are not required to undergo regularly scheduled, formal, readiness inspections. Coast Guard concurred with our recommendation to develop and implement a strategic plan for improving SAR program readiness.