COAST GUARD AUXILIARY REMINDS BOATERS ABOUT
NEW RULES FOR EMERGENCY BEACONS
Boaters Must Not Operate 121.5/243 MHZ Emergency Position Indicating Radio
Beacons (EPIRBs) after December 31, 2006
WASHINGTON - The Coast Guard Auxiliary is
joining with the United States Coast Guard to remind all boaters that beginning
January 1, 2007, both 121.5 and 243 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio
Beacons (EPIRBs) are prohibited from use in both commercial and recreational
watercraft. Boaters wishing to have an emergency rescue beacon aboard their
vessel must have a digital 406 MHz model.
The January 1, 2007, date to stop using 121.5
MHz EPIRBs is in preparation for February 1, 2009, when satellite processing of
distress signals from all 121.5/243 MHz beacons will terminate. Following this
termination date, only the 406 MHz beacons will be detected by the International
Cospas-Sarsat Satellite System which provides distress alert and location data
for search and rescue operations around the world.
The regulation applies to all Class A, B, and S
121.5/243 MHz EPIRBs. It does not affect 121.5/243 MHz man overboard devices
which are designed to work directly with a base alerting unit only and not with
the satellite system.
This change, in large part, was brought about by
the unreliability of the 121.5/243 MHz beacons in an emergency situation. Data
reveals that with a 121.5 MHz beacon, only one alert out of every 50 is a
genuine distress situation. This has a significant effect on expending the
limited resources of search and rescue personnel and platforms. With 406 MHz
beacons, false alerts have been reduced significantly, and, when properly
registered, can usually be resolved with a telephone call to the beacon owner.
Consequently, real alerts can receive the attention they deserve.
When a 406 MHz beacon signal is received, search
and rescue personnel can retrieve information from a registration database. This
includes the beacon owner's contact information, emergency contact information,
and vessel/aircraft identifying characteristics. Having this information allows
the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary, or other rescue personnel, to respond
In the U.S., users are required by law to
directly register their beacon in the U.S. 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database
by calling 1-888-212-SAVE. Other
users can register their beacon in their country's national beacon registration
database or, if no national database is available, in the International Beacon
Registration Database at
The United States Coast Guard is the lead agency
for coordinating national maritime search and rescue policy and is responsible
for providing search and rescue services on, under and over assigned
international waters and waters subject to United States jurisdiction.
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is
composed of uniformed, non-military volunteer's who assist the Coast Guard in
all of its varied missions, except for military and direct law enforcement.
These men and women can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in
classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety
patrols, vessel safety checks and public education.
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary was
founded in 1939 by an Act of Congress as the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and
re-designated as the Auxiliary in 1941. Its 30,000 members donate millions of
hours annually in support of Coast Guard missions.
For more information on the United States Coast
Guard Auxiliary, visit us at