Coast Guard Buying Up to 16,000 Personal Locator Beacons

gCaptain has reported that the Coast Guard will recommend that all lifejackets on ocean-going vessels be equipped with Personal Locator Beacons.

“In the United States Coast Guard’s upcoming El Faro investigation report, Captain Jason Neubauer USCG, Chairman of the Marine Board of Investigation, will recommend that all Personal Flotation Devices on oceangoing commercial vessels be outfitted with a Personal Locator Beacon.”

“The investigation report does not call for a second EPIRB equipped with GPS, as some marine safety experts have called for, but takes the additional step of recommending that PLB’s be attached to all lifejackets aboard oceangoing commercial vessels.”

Apparently the Coast Guard is taking the lesson to heart. Intelligent-Aerospace reports the Coast Guard has let a $3 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with options for up to 16,000 McMurdo Fast Find 220 Personal Locator beacons.

According to the manufacturer,

The McMurdo FastFind 220 is small and light enough for you to carry on your person at all times. Using advanced technology, the FastFind 220 transmits a unique ID and your current GPS co-ordinates via the Cospas-Sarsat global search and rescue satellite network, alerting the rescue services within minutes. Once within the area, the search and rescue services can quickly home in on your location using the unit’s 121.5Mhz homing beacon and flashing LED SOS light.

These PLBs are available from a variety of sources including on-line for $190-$300. 16,000 PLBs for $3M would average $187.50 each.

Considering what we do, this looks like a good investment. Presumably every aircraft, boat, and cutter crewman will have one of these on their lifejacket or perhaps their work uniform.

 

Man Overboard Alarm

Photo: ALERT2 Man-Overboard Alarm System from Emerald Marine Products 

Loosing a man overboard is one of those nightmares you never want happening on your watch. I was CG liaison officer at Fleet Training Group San Diego when a 210 that had recently lost two men over board came through for REFTRA. Four crewmen, being good sailors, took it upon themselves to go on deck during a storm to secure some loose equipment. All four were washed overboard. The sea then deposited two of them back on board. The other two were never found, so it does happen.

MarineLink has a story about a device that alarms the watch when its wearer goes in the water.

“Upon receiving an MOB activation signal, the AR100 Receiver sets off a loud, 95 dB alarm and bright red alert light on the display. It can be wired to shut down engines—essential for solo mariners and fishermen. Connected to a compatible GPS chartplotter, it automatically sets an overboard waypoint. External speakers and strobes can be utilized with the AR100. It can also be configured to alert via a remote cellular dial-up, radio transmission burst or Internet-connected device. The AR100 Receiver runs on 12V, or on 110V using the optional power supply. It comes with a flexible whip antenna, coaxial cable and full mounting hardware.


“The optional ALERT2 Portable Directional Finder aids crew in locating the MOB when visual contact is lost due to darkness or sea conditions. Unlike AIS, which is typically installed in the wheelhouse, the directional finder can be used on deck. Rescuers sweep the horizon to quickly home-in on the transmitter’s signal for a fast recovery.

“Emerald Marine Products’ ALERT2 AT101 Transmitter lists for $269, the AT200 IS model for $369, the AR100 Receiver for $749 and the Portable Directional Finder for $899. Discounted pricing is available for packages.”

Note, I don’t really know if this a good company or its products are the best of the type, so I’m not endorsing the particular product, but simply pointing out that such things exist. Maybe the Coast Guard is already using them. I know I would feel better, if I knew my BMOW was wearing a device with the capability claimed for these.