EPIRB signal assists in rescue of mariners in distress

PHILADELPHIA – The Coast Guard urges mariners to insure their Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon is properly registered and functioning before heading out on the water.

The Coast Guard recently saved three boaters because they had a properly functioning and registered EPIRB aboard their boat.

Friday, July 3, 2009, the Coast Guard received a distress call on VHF Radio channel 16 “Mayday, we’re going down, need help!”, which was followed by silence as their radio cut out. Rescue 21, the Coast Guard’s advanced communication system that uses radio transmissions to determine location, was able to pick up bearings from two separate radio towers. A few minutes later, one last transmission was heard saying “Get out here quickly!” Watch standers at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay Philadelphia Command Center launched both air and sea assets to search the area where the bearing lines crossed.

An EPIRB alert was received by the Coast Guard in the vicinity of the same distress. EPIRBs transmit signals, which are received by satellites passing overhead. There are different types of EPIRBs available, the size of your vessel determines if you are required to carry one. For those that are not required to, it is still an excellent idea to have one aboard.

A properly registered EPIRB can provide the Coast Guard with an almost exact location of a distressed vessel, along with owner/vessel information and emergency contact information. The emergency contact was able to provide the Coast Guard with further information including the vessel description, number of persons aboard and the fishing spot they were headed to that day.

The boat was located 34 minutes after the EPIRB activated and was found capsized with the three survivors clinging to the hull. The EPIRB signal received by the Coast Guard led the rescuers directly to the boat.

This case is a perfect example of how useful and vital EPIRBs are for mariners. However, if an EPIRB is not properly registered and cared for it will not provide these capabilities. In 2007, distress alerts provided by EPIRBs assisted in saving 353 lives in the United States. Please be safe. Register your EPIRB and keep it properly maintained. It could save your life!

The U.S. Coast Guard Office of Search and Rescue manages the Search and Rescue Satellite program along with partners from NOAA, the U.S. Air Force and NASA. See the following sites for more information:

USCG Office of Search and Rescue: www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg534

NOAA SARSAT Program: www.sarsat.noaa.gov

U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center: www.1af.acc.af.mil/units/afrcc/

NASA Search and Rescue: http://searchandrescue.gsfc.nasa.gov/

International Cospas-Sarsat website: www.cospas-sarsat.org

Boat Safe: www.boatsafe.com



CAPE MAY, N.J. – Eileen Cook, captain of the Cap’n Cook homported in Potomac, Md., discusses why she has two Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacons aboard her boat Wednesday, July 22, 2009, at a marina in Cape May, N.J. A properly registered EPIRB can provide the Coast Guard with an almost exact location of a distressed vessel, along with owner/vessel information and emergency contact information.

U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher D. McLaughlin

Related Posts

Comments are closed.