USCG Defines Response Procedures for Satellite Messaging Devices


Mar 11, 2001
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USCG Defines Response Procedures for Satellite Messaging Devices


FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida-In an announcement earlier this month to SAR Managers and Command Center Controllers, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has clearly defined the differences in response procedures in handling 406 MHz distress alerts from EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons), PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) and ELTs (Emergency Locator Transmitter) and response procedures to other commercially-based satellite messaging and tracking systems and FRS transmitters, such as the GlobalStar/SPOT and TracMe.

A PLB, ELT or EPIRB transmission is immediately considered a Distress Alert (unless proven otherwise by procedural checks). Unless there is evidence that there is no distress, this designation prompts the immediate launch of a search mission. Compared with this, a telephone notification from a regional call center of other commercially based messaging products first requires a careful factual evaluation and categorization in the following three categories-- Uncertainty, Alert and Distress:

Uncertainty Phase: A situation wherein doubt exists about the safety of an aircraft or a marine vessel, and of the persons on board.

Alert Phase: A situation wherein apprehension exists as to the safety of an aircraft or marine vessel, and of the persons on board.

Distress Phase: A situation wherein there is reasonable certainty that a vessel or other craft, including an aircraft or a person, is threatened by grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance.

The United States Coast Guard Office of Search and Rescue (CG-534) has included this procedural clarification in an update (change 2) to the U.S. Coast Guard Addendum to the United States National Search and Rescue Supplement (NSS) to the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR), COMDTINST M16130.2D (series).

Each of the above Phases dictates a level of response from the Rescue Coordination Centers. Telephone notifications will be categorized to one of these phases based on the amount of detail received. Reports that do not include GPS locations or Float Plan-like detail from regional call centers will not necessarily prompt the immediate launch of a Search Mission. The USCG will continue to seek additional information before assets are deployed.

ACR Electronics' President Paul Frank stated that "In life-threatening situations, the time of response is of the utmost essence. A 406 MHz EPIRB or PLB will generate the quickest possible response from Search and Rescue."

According to ACR Electronics' Vice President, Paul Hardin, "Beacons do not rescue people. It is the USCG and land-based SAR groups that rescue people. The 406 MHz system is a highly reliable distress alerting and locating system that can reduce risk to SAR personnel and reduce the taxpayer funded expense of SAR. If misused, the commercially-based systems can increase the risk to SAR and divert lifesaving assets away from real emergencies."

This information is provided to inform consumers so they are fully informed on the capabilities of each system and the responses from Rescue Authorities.

The links below will take you to the Publications referenced in this Press Release. Number 231/08 Glossary Page 3-20 and 3-21

ACR Electronics, Inc. (>> ), a Cobham plc Company, designs and manufactures a complete line of safety and survival products including EPIRBs, PLBs, SSAS, AIS, SARTs and safety accessories. The quality systems of this facility have been registered by UL to the ISO 9001:2000 Series Standards. Recognized as the world leader in safety and survival technologies, ACR has provided safety equipment to the aviation and marine industries as well as to the military since 1956.

Media Contact:
John Bell (954) 970-3394

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