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AMHS Receives Coast Guard Awards

(JUNEAU, Alaska) -The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) was honored recently during an award ceremony in the nation's capital for its 2009 participation in the U.S. Coast Guard's Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER).

The awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., coincided with a meeting among Alaska's congressional delegation staffers by Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Deputy Commissioner of Marine Operations, Jim Beedle and AMHS General Manager John Falvey. The pair also met with Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Authority representatives.

During 2009, AMHS crews and vessels joined hundreds of other nations in providing a worldwide safety network to assist search and rescue coordinators in responding to emergencies at sea. AMVER, sponsored by the United States Coast Guard, is a computer-based and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to assist people in distress at sea. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.

AMVER's mission is to quickly provide search and rescue authorities, on demand, accurate information on vessel positions and characteristics of vessels near a reported distress.

Prior to sailing, participating ships send a sail plan to the AMVER computer center. Vessel operators then report every 48 hours until arriving at their port of call. This data is able to project ship positions at any point during its voyage. In an emergency, any rescue coordination center can request this data to determine the relative position of AMVER ships near the distress location. On any given day there are more than 3,700 ships available to conduct search and rescue services.

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