The seas around Taiwan have been ranked as posing a moderate risk to ocean-going activities because of heavy ocean traffic and severe weather conditions such as typhoons and monsoons. Taiwan’s Coast Guard responds to approximately 500 calls each year, and over 50% of its search and rescue missions involve persons in water (PIW). The drift of PIW at sea without propulsion is affected by ocean currents, wind, and wave actions. Therefore, having timely, reliable, and accurate environmental information, particularly regarding surface currents, is important to locate a drifting target. We examined the surface current data collected by Taiwan Coast Guard’s datum marker buoys (DMBs) and the use of these data for search and rescue missions involving PIWs. Our results showed that DMBs provide useful information on near shore currents that help search planners draw up satisfactory search areas. We also found that the deployment of real-time DMBs by the search unit at the scene is also effective for locating the search target.

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