The Metron-developed SAROPS tool led the Coast Guard to the rescue of a fisherman who had spent almost 12 hours in the water.

Every day the U.S. Coast Guard uses the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System (SAROPS) to plan searches for people, boats, and ships that are lost at sea.

Metron developed the components of SAROPS that produce probability maps for the location of missing people and vessels and recommend search patterns to maximize probability of detection.

The maps account for the possible motion of the search object due to winds and currents as well as the effects of unsuccessful search.

SAROPS is a Bayesian search planning system based on Metron’s background in optimal search and its years of experience in planning successful search operations.

When a search and rescue problem arises, specially trained Coast Guard personnel run SAROPS at a Rescue Coordination Center to plan the search. The Coast Guard considers SAROPS to be one of its most reliable, effective, and useful software programs.

Project Timeline

Rescuing a Man Overboard

8:30 PM July 23, 2013

John Aldridge and Andrew Sosinski depart Montauk Long Island headed for their lobster traps. The boat, Anna Mary, was set on auto pilot and Captain Sosinski went below decks to get some sleep expecting to be awakened at 11:30 PM.

3:30 AM July 24

Aldridge decides to let Sosinski get some extra sleep and prepares the boat for bringing in the lobster traps himself. In the process of trying to open a hatch, Aldridge slips and falls overboard without a life preserver and without being able to alert the sleeping Sosinski. Aldridge pulled off his rubber boots, filled them with air, and tucked one under each arm hoping to keep himself afloat until he could be rescued.

6:00 AM

Sosinski wakes up to discover Aldridge is missing. At 6:22 Sosinski radios the Coast Guard that Aldridge has fallen overboard sometime in the night.

6:28 AM - 8:00 AM

Coast Guard Command notifies the Search and Rescue Center in New Haven of the man overboard. They begin to plan search operations using SAROPS, but the initial probability map is too spread out and (in hindsight) looking in the wrong place. After talking with Sosinski, the Coast Guard officer in charge of the search was able to improve the information supplied to SAROPS. Using the revised map based on this information and the new patterns recommended by SAROPS, ships and a helicopter were dispatched to search for Aldridge.

2:19 PM - 2:58 PM

At 2:19, the helicopter had finished its last assigned pattern with no success. Rather than return to base, the pilot asked for another pattern. The Coast Guard search expert suggested running a search through a high probability area of the SAROPS map. At 2:46 PM the helicopter began the new search and 12 minutes later Aldridge was spotted and recovered after almost 12 hours in the water thanks to SAROPS and the persistence of Coast personnel.

Saving Lives

"Thank God they saved me. There is no better entity than the US Coast Guard to come save your ass when you're on the water."
John Aldridge

Core Capabilities

Bayesian Search Planning

Metron uses our expertise and experience in Bayesian inference and search theory to produce a reliable search and rescue tool that the US Coast Guard has identified as one of its most effective software programs.

Decision Support

Metron builds decision-support systems that help operators make the best possible decision even in chaotic situations with ambiguous information.

Explore Decision Support


Metron's analytics team develops tools to process massive amounts of data, helping our client make sense of their numbers.

Explore Analytics

Key Contributor

Dr. Lawrence D. Stone

Bayesian Search Theory Expert

Dr. Stone joined Metron in 1986. He became the chief operating officer in 1990 and the chief executive officer in 2004. In 2010 he returned to primarily technical work as the chief scientist. He is the author of The Theory of Optimal Search, which won the prestigious Lanchester Prize for the best work in Operations Research in 1975. He is co-author of the 2014 book Bayesian Multiple Target Tracking 2nd Ed. and the 2016 book Optimal Search for Moving Targets. Dr Stone led the Metron team in the successful search for the missing Air France flight 447. He also performed Bayesian analysis leading to the discovery of the SS Central America off the coast of South Carolina in 1987 and conducted on-scene analysis for the US Navy in the search for the submarine Scorpion off the Azores in 1968.

Key Contributor

Next Project

Locating Gold Mines in Ecuador

Metron used search theory to help the Canadian exploration company, Aurania, search for the lost 16th Century gold cities of Logroño de los Caballeros and Sevilla del Oro in the Ecuadorian jungle

View Project