Thale’s Submarine Distress Beacon for Royal Navy

Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Photo courtesy Thales UK

Thales UK’s highly successful submarine distress beacon has been accepted into service with the Royal Navy (RN). Following a trial period, more than 100 SEEPIRB (submarine-ejected emergency positioning indicating radio beacon) buoys have been accepted into service with all classes of RN submarines, including the new Astute class.

The SEEPIRB has been developed for submarines to provide distress alerting and position information via radio transmissions on a satellite-aided tracking frequency. The message transmitted by the beacon is unique for each unit, thus providing identification of the transmitter. Once the search and rescue forces are alerted via the satellite-aided tracking network, they can converge on the confirmed position. Inter¬mediate and short-range location is aided by the SEEPIRB’s onboard locator beacon.

SEEPIRB can be launched from standard submerged signal ejectors (SSE) Mk 4, 6, 8 and 10. Launching can take place at maximum operational depth and submerged speeds of up to 15kt. No programming of the SEEPIRB is required. The alert func¬tions, and the vessel and country identifiers are pre-programmed into the beacon as agreed with each customer.

Phil Naybour, head of Thales UK’s naval business, says: “Since winning the RN contract, we have won several additional export contracts and continue to see an increasing interest from around the world in this excellent product.”

The buoy, which is designed and produced at Thales’s Templecombe site in Somerset, is already in service with a number of submarine fleets around the world.

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