Safety Alert on Personal Locator Devices for Mariners Issued

A safety alert urging vessel owners and operators to provide each crewmember with a personal locator device has been issued by the U.S National Transportation Safety Board.

Personal locator devices, such as personal locator beacons (PLB) or satellite emergency notification devices (SEND), can pinpoint a person’s location and improve a mariner’s chance of rescue during an emergency.

NTSB investigations found that currently available personal locator beacons provide a location accuracy of about 300 feet, and a nearly instant search and rescue notification when activated.

The NTSB’s Safety Alert advises vessel owners and operators to select the best type of personal locator device for their crew, ensure each crewmember carries one, and register each device with the appropriate organization.

Specifically, as it is said, owners and operators should determine the best type of personal locator device for their crew. Some devices transmit via satellite, while others transmit on terrestrial frequencies and not all devices notify the coast guard directly.

It is advised to provide each crewmember a personal locator device and ensure they carry it. Devices can be worn in a zipped clothing pocket or a bag attached to a belt or attached to personal flotation devices.

Meanwhile it is recommended to register each crewmember’s personal locator device with the appropriate organization. Personal locator beacons must be registered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, while SENDs and other similar devices should be registered through the manufacturer or operating company.

The safety alert notes six casualties NTSB has investigated where personal locator devices could have assisted or did assist rescuers in locating survivors, including the rescue of all aboard the fishing vessel Ambition after a crewmember’s use of a SEND prompted an immediate response when the vessel began to flood in the Bering Sea in 2016.