scallop boat Lady Mary
EPIRB and PLB owners urged to check registration after F/V Lady Mary sinking off New Jersey
Friday, 24 April 2009
Cobham Life Support, ACR Products, the world¹s leader in safety and survival technologies, is urging all EPIRB and PLB owners to double check their 15-character identification code registration. According to a recent Marine Board of Investigation inquiry, which is looking into the sinking of the scallop boat Lady Mary on March 24th, there was a discrepancy in the EPIRB's identification number, marked on a decal that the boat¹s owner had received from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after he registered the EPIRB.
In the case of the Lady Mary, the emergency signal initially received by authorities was regarded as unregistered which may have led to delays in response time while emergency center controllers waited for additional satellite passes to fix a location. Had the controllers been able to pull the Lady Mary¹s registration data, they could have contacted emergency contacts to confirm the status of the boat and its general location prior to a satellite fix.
³Because this situation came to light, we are urging all beacon owners to compare their 15-character identification code printed on the beacon with the registration sticker they receive from NOAA just to ensure they both match,² said Chris Wahler, Marketing Manager for Cobham Life Support, ACR Products. ³If there is a discrepancy, we urge the owner to contact NOAA immediately to correct the information.
An EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) or PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) is a satellite-signaling device of last resort, for use when all other means of self-rescue have been exhausted and where the situation is deemed to be grave and imminent, and the loss of life, limb, eyesight or valuable property will occur without assistance. All US beacons must be registered with NOAA following purchase. Registration, including the beacon¹s unique 15-character identification code, often is made online.
Despite the requirement to register all EPIRBs and PLBs, some reports show that up to 40 percent of EPIRB activations are from unregistered beacons, a possible deadly mistake when minutes can make the difference between life and death.
In an emergency, the EPIRBs and PLBs transmit on 406 MHz via the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system with the sender¹s unique, registered, digitally coded distress signal. The code allows emergency officials monitoring the system to tell who is sending the signal (thanks to the coding and registration data). Once the emergency is confirmed and location data is received from the satellites, a search can be authorized.
Wahler said proper registration is vital in the early minutes of an emergency so rescue center officials can obtain critical data about a boat¹s owner, home port, emergency contacts and other information to begin a search even before a satellite gets a fix on a beacon¹s location