Coast Guard assists 5, stresses EPIRB importance

The Cospas-Sarsat satellite system uses a combination of different satellites to detect and locate emergency beacons. The satellites relay the distress signals from the emergency beacons to a network of ground stations and ultimately to the U.S. Mission Control Center in Suitland, Maryland. The USMCC processes the distress signal and alerts the appropriate search and rescue authorities to who is in distress and, more importantly, where they are located. (U.S. Coast Guard graphic/Released)

The Cospas-Sarsat satellite system uses a combination of different satellites to detect and locate emergency beacons. The satellites relay the distress signals from the emergency beacons to a network of ground stations and ultimately to the U.S. Mission Control Center in Suitland, Maryland. The USMCC processes the distress signal and alerts the appropriate search and rescue authorities to who is in distress and, more importantly, where they are located. (U.S. Coast Guard graphic/Released)

MIAMI — Coast Guard rescue crews across Florida launched for three separate search and rescue cases after emergency position-indicating radio beacons were activated alerting Coast Guard watchstanders to mariners in distress.

Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater and Coast Guard Cutter Crocodile rescue crews were directed to launch, Thursday, after the crew of the fishing boat El Lobo activated their EPIRB after running out of fuel about 69 miles south of Clearwater. The crew requested Coast Guard assistance in contacting a commercial towing company on their behalf. The El Lobo crew is reported in good health.

Coast Guard Air Station Miami and Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber rescue crews launched after an EPIRB was activated twice. While rescue crews exhausted all search leads, no one was found in distress. Crews are on alert in case of EPIRB reactivation.

Coast Guard Station Yankeetown and Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater rescue crews launched, Wednesday, after an EPIRB was activated for a disabled 20-foot boat with two people aboard, reported in good health. The rescue screws worked with a commercial towing company and towed the boat back to shore.

Working and registered EPIRBs are important for vessels because they can save your life when regular communication avenues fail. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your EPIRB is properly working before transiting out to sea:

  • Check the batteries. Batteries must be replaced by the date indicated on the EPIRB label using the model specified by the manufacturer. It should be replaced by a dealer approved by the manufacturer. If the replacement battery is not the proper type, the EPIRB will not operate for the duration specified in a distress.
  • Test it. 406 MHz EPIRBs can be tested through its self-function test, which is an integral part of the device.
  • Is it registered? Every time a ship or beacon changes hands or gets thrown out, the registration needs to be updated. When an EPIRB is activated, search and rescue crews immediately contact the registered owner to guarantee it’s not a false alert.

“Of all the safety gear a prudent mariner carries, the EPIRB alerts the Coast Guard to their position and in these cases, resulted in saving five lives,” said Chris Eddy, search and rescue specialist for the Seventh Coast Guard District. “The Coast Guard investigates every EPIRB alert, and it is important to update the registration to help avoid unnecessary searches.”

In addition to EPIRBs, mariners are reminded to:

  • Check the weather before going on the water.
  • Wear a life jacket.
  • File a float plan by telling someone where you are going and when you’ll return.
  • Have a working VHF radio.
  • Take a boating safety course.

To register your beacon, please go to https://beaconregistration.noaa.gov/RGDB/.

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