Search and Rescue Goes Digital

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Coast Guard would like to remind commercial and recreational boaters that beginning Feb. 1, 2009, the Coast Guard and other search and rescue personnel will only receive distress alerts from digital 406-MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs).

Because satellites will no longer process analog signals transmitting on 121.5 or 243.0 MHz, the Coast Guard urges mariners and aviators to upgrade their onboard analog equipment to include a digital 406-MHz EPIRB.

The 406-MHz EPIRB's signal is 50 times more powerful than the 121.5 or 243.0 MHz beacons, allowing satellites to better detect its signal and provide a more accurate search area for rescue crews. For instance, a GPS-embedded 406-MHz EPIRB can shrink a search area to about 100 yards and can pinpoint the position of a distressed mariner within minutes, whereas an analog beacon may only result in an initial search area of 500 square miles.

Additionally, the number of false alerts with digital beacons is significantly lower than analog beacons. Satellites are not capable of distinguishing between beacon and non-beacon sources using analog frequencies, making only about one in five alerts actually coming from a beacon. Many false alert signals come from ATMs, pizza ovens and stadium scoreboards.

With analog beacons, the only way to determine if an alert is an actual emergency is to send rescue crews to the area, which costs thousands of dollars, takes resources away from actual emergencies and puts the lives of responders at risk needlessly.

The decision to stop processing the analog 121.5 and 243 MHz signals was made by the International Copas-Sarsat Program with guidance from the United Nations. This was due to numerous signal reception problems and a high percentage of false alarms.

EPIRB owners are required by law to provide emergency contact information and a vessel description by registering their beacons with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration online at http://www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov or by calling 1-888-212-SAVE.

For more information on EPIRBs and the switchover from analog signal to digital signal, please visit http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/.

Maritime Reporter October 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Coast Guard

China Defies U.S. Plea for Restraint in South China Sea

China on Monday hit back at "irresponsible remarks" from the United States which has called on Beijing to stop a land reclamation project in the disputed South

USCG Medevacs 80 Yr-Old Near Lake Michigan

A Coast Guard aircrew medically evacuated an 80-year-old man off Beaver Island in Lake Michigan Sunday night. The man’s name is not being released. At 5:40 p.

USCG Assist Duck Hunters Near Harrington Beach Park

The Coast Guard and the Port Washington and Cedar Grove Fire Departments came to the assistance of two duck hunters on Lake Michigan Friday. The names of those involved are not being released.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Navigation Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.0710 sec (14 req/sec)