OSMS and YOU: Search and Rescue Coordination

This blog post is the eighth in a series of posts highlighting the various specialties and sub-specialties offered by the recently launched Officer Specialty Management System. Stay tuned as we share key information about each specialty/sub-specialty in the coming weeks!



Search and Rescue is the service’s highest consequence, highest frequency mission. Coast Guard performance in this humanitarian endeavor frequently alters the outcome of otherwise fatal incidents. Consequently, it is critical that SAR planners responsible for making judgments on SAR response and case coordination at field units are knowledgeable, well trained and experienced.

The OAR-11 officer specialty code, or OSC, is available to those officers who demonstrate satisfactory performance and proficiency in aeronautical and maritime SAR planning and response coordination. This competency is fundamental to junior officers aspiring to a Response-Ashore career. SAR case planning and response coordination is confined to sector command centers, or SCC, and district rescue coordination centers, or RCC. Therefore; SAR watch qualification, an OAR-11 prerequisite, can only be achieved in a SCC or an RCC. The Apprentice competency is attained by serving successfully in watch positions authorized to perform search and rescue planning and response coordination (operations unit and command duty officer), after achievement of the initial SAR watch qualification.

OAR-11 sub-specialty levels are conveyed to search and rescue professionals based on demonstrated proficiency, with emphasis on practical application of search and rescue policy and procedures, as well as cumulative experience in search and rescue planning and response coordination. Upon achievement of initial SAR competence and proficiency in SAR planning and response coordination (Apprentice), officers are expected to advance their knowledge, proficiency and experience as they progress through the OAR-11 sub-specialties (Journeyman and Master), while serving in SAR-related assignments. Collateral duty SAR watch officers and members who hold legacy SAR controller qualifications can also qualify for the OAR-11 competency.

The OAR-11 competency will readily identify those individuals with the requisite training, knowledge and experience who are best prepared to serve in SAR supervisory positions, including district and sector command center chief, incident management chief, and sector response department head. It will also readily distinguish the pool of candidates who are best equipped to perform the duties and responsibilities of SAR mission coordinator, a prerequisite for OAR-11 Master designation.

Questions regarding the OAR11 competency can be directed to CDR Mia Dutcher, policy division chief at the Coast Guard Office of Search and Rescue (CG-SAR-1).

Officers can also find more information on the OSMS by visiting the OPM-3 website.

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