Emergency beacon leads to crew rescue off Taiwan

ALAMEDA, Calif. – Eleven people were rescued following the activation of their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) when their vessel sank off of the coast of Taiwan April 25, 2009.

The Coast Guard Pacific Area Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) here received a registered 406 MHz distress alert from an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) registered to the sailing vessel Princess Taiping, a 54-foot, 3-masted Ming Dynasty warship replica that’s last port of call was the Cook Islands.

Coast Guard search and rescue coordinators then contacted Taiwan and Japan RCCs and asked for their assistance in locating the vessel. The Search and Rescue Satellite (SARSAT) alert was then pinpointed to a location off of the northeast coast of Taiwan. The Taiwan RCC assumed search and rescue mission coordinator and launched rescue aircraft and boats. The Princess Taiping’s crew of 11 was then rescued in stable condition and transported to Taipei, Taiwan.

“The registered EPIRB onboard this vessel was instrumental in saving the lives of these people,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mark Ames, the Coast Guard Command Center Supervisor here “The Coast Guard cannot stress enough the importance of having safety equipment on board any vessel and to test it occasionally to be sure it is in working order. Doing so could help save your life or the lives of others aboard your vessel.”

The Coast Guard strongly recommends mariners obtain and register the new 406 MHz EPIRB as well as file a float plan with a friend or family member on land, with an approximate time of return and location prior to getting underway.

The major advantage of the 406 MHz low earth orbit system is the provision of global Earth coverage using a limited number of polar-orbiting satellite. Coverage is not continuous, however, and it may take up to a couple of hours for an EPIRB alert to be received. To overcome this limitation, COSPAS-SARSAT has 406 MHz EPIRB repeaters aboard several geostationary satellites.

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