Mr. OBERSTAR. I thank the gentleman from Maryland again, the Chair of the Coast Guard Subcommittee, for his diligent work on this very tragic resolution. It is very important to pay recognition to those who lost their lives. I was very deeply touched by the remarks of the gentlewoman from California, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. LoBiondo) and Chairman CUMMINGS.
These are courageous servicemen and -women, those in the U.S. Coast Guard, those in the U.S. Marine Corps, our oldest service unit, which predates the establishment of our own Nation. The Coast Guard itself was the third act of the first session of the first Congress by this committee, the Committee on Rivers and Harbors, that established the Revenue Cutter Service to collect duties on inbound cargoes and repay the debts of the Revolutionary War.
The Revenue Cutter Service later became the U.S. Coast Guard. That Coast Guard every year responds to over 60,000 calls for help, every year saves over 5,000 lives. It is tragic that in the course of their search and rescue service that Coast Guard men and women should have lost their lives.
Now there is an investigation underway by the Navy and the Coast Guard jointly inquiring into the causes of this tragedy, hopefully for the purpose of unraveling that collision, but also to learn lessons to avoid such incidents in the future. This incident occurred in military-controlled airspace, airspace controlled by the U.S. Navy from an onshore facility at San Diego.
The Coast Guard's C-130 had a data recorder on board. Search is underway to hopefully locate that data recorder and gain useful information about the circumstances under which the collision occurred. It was at twilight, it was at dusk. Very hard to distinguish and effectively operate under the rules of see and avoid. But there must be more at stake here. That C-130 was loaded with electronic equipment for detection of vessels or persons in the water, and one has to assume it had equipment to detect proximity of another aircraft.
We have to unravel those facts and understand what occurred in order to avoid such circumstances in the future and engage the necessary training for personnel or install on board both helicopters and C-130-type aircraft traffic collision avoidance systems, which the Navy initiated 40 years ago and which is now aboard all commercial airliners.
Unfortunately, the National Transportation Safety Board, at least at the outset, will not be engaged in the investigation. I'm of the view that the NTSB should be a partner in any such investigations of military aircraft in U.S. territorial airspace. That is a matter for another time, but as we pay tribute to and acknowledge those who gave their lives in service of this country in pursuance of their mission, I think it's important to recall that there is more we can and must do to improve safety in the domestic airspace, including safety under the control of our military units.
[Time: 14:00] There will be further attention paid to this issue. We will pursue the safety issues engaged in this tragedy. But for the moment, we must mourn the loss of those crew members whom Mr. Cummings already noted in his remarks.