Whether You're Going Offshore or
Not, an EPIRB Is Not a Bad Idea
By Wayne Spivak; National Press
Corps United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
THREE SAILORS RESCUED
WITH NO INJURIES
PORTSMOUTH, VA – The three people rescued from the 35-foot sailing
vessel Dulcinea 85 miles southeast of Cape Fear, N.C.
After drifting for
more than two days, the trio activated an Electronic Position Indicating
Radio Beacon (EPIRB) about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. A C-130 airplane from
Elizabeth City, N.C., was launched and quickly located the demasted
sailboat. An HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was also launched and safely
hoisted all three people aboard in 55 mile-per-hour winds and 10-15 foot
The crew of the
Sailing Vessel Dulcinea was lucky. They were lucky because they
choose to carry onboard their vessel a non-mandated, somewhat expensive
piece of safety equipment. They were lucky because they remembered that
they had this non-mandated, but essential piece of safety equipment
onboard their vessel. They were lucky because they triggered this
non-mandated, but essential piece of safety equipment, and were rescued
in short order.
What is an EPIRB?
An EPIRB is a device
that costs anywhere from $200 to $1500, depending on the Class or
Category, and optional features of the device. Today, if a boater were
to purchase an EPIRB, the Coast Guard recommends the following types:
406/121.5 MHZ. This
model floats-free, and is an automatically activated EPIRB. It is
detectable by satellite anywhere in the world. Recognized by GMDSS.
406/121.5 MHZ. Similar
to Category I, except is manually activated. Some models are also water
activated. The following type of EPIRB is currently not sold in the
U.S.; however, the Federal Communications Commission is considering
recognizing these devices.
1646 MHZ. Float-free,
automatically activated EPIRB. Detectable by Inmarsat geostationary
satellite. Recognized by GMDSS.
What is GMDSS?
GMDSS stands for
Global Maritime Distress & Safety System. According to the USCG
Navigation Center, GMDSS "...consists of several systems, some of which
are new, but many of which have been in operation for many years. The
system will be able to reliably perform the following functions:
alerting (including position determination of the unit in distress),
search and rescue coordination, locating (homing), maritime safety
information broadcasts, general communications, and bridge-to-bridge
communications. Specific radio carriage requirements depend upon the
ship's area of operation, rather than its tonnage. The system also
provides redundant means of distress alerting, and emergency sources of
power." For more information on GMDSS, visit http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=GMDSS.
A Simple Decision
If you boat offshore,
or in areas that are not transited regularly by other boaters, you
really should strongly consider purchasing an EPIRB. If you boat in an
area transited by many other boaters, think twice about the number of
times you've helped a boater in distress, and then rethink your decision
(especially if its against spending the money) and buy an EPRIB.
So you've thought it
over and went out and purchased a 406 MHz EPIRB. Congratulations - you
have your new EPIRB! Remember, older models are NOT recommended, and are
considerably less accurate. Like most things in life, you get what you
pay for. So, spend a little more money, even though you may find the
deal of a lifetime on eBay! Now don't forget to register it with the
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). You can
get the registration from here:
http://www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov Why register?
First, it's the law; and secondly - it helps the Coast Guard with
identifying the vessel and the owner. You should not move an EPRIB from
one vessel to another, unless you modify your registration.
includes adhering to federal, state and local regulations concerning
mandatory equipment; obtain as much boating orientated education as
possible; and then go the extra mile and obtain safety based equipment
and education that will make you the best and safest boater you can be!
For more information, refer to the USCG
web site (http://www.uscg.mil/default.asp)
and for boating education, contact the USCG Auxiliary
Date: Jul 18, 2005
Contact: Aux. Wayne Spivak
Chief - External Communications
Public Affairs Department
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
Saves Massachusetts Fisherman
Coast Guard Station Cape Cod aircrew rescued three commercial fisherman
from a life raft after their fishing vessel sunk, yesterday afternoon.
MayDay was unable to be sent, since the electrical system was
compromised and power was lost by water which entered the engine
compartment due to an accident while fishing.
saved these commercial fisherman was the use of an EPIRB.
is an acronym for Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon. The
state-of-the-art units, a 406Mhz with an integral GPS system send a
signal to a GOES weather satellite. The emergency alert as well as the
position of the EPIRB are then sent to the nearest USCG SAR Rescue
Coordination Center (RCC). From there, a Search and Rescue mission is
EPIRB's are not just for commercial fisherman, they are also for
recreational boaters as well. Whether you boat in the intra-coastal
waterways, the Great Lakes, 5 miles offshore or 500 miles offshore, the
USCG and Coast Guard Auxiliary suggest you think about your boating
territory and habits; then consider whether the purchase of an EPIRB
should be part of your boat's safety equipment.
more information about EPIRB's, visit the USCG Navigation Center at