The Coast Guard urges mariners to ensure their digital selective calling VHF-FM marine-band radios, emergency position indicating radio beacons and personal locator beacons are properly registered and updated regularly to reduce response times for rescuers.
During the past four years, the Coast Guard’s 5th District and other partnering agencies have responded to dozens of cases dealing with unregistered DSC VHF-FM radios, EPIRBs and PLBs resulting in nearly $250,000 worth of response to these cases.
“The biggest issue we have with these searches is the unregistered or improperly registered electronic devices on board,” said Geoff Pagels, a search and rescue specialist for the Coast Guard’s 5th District in Portsmouth. “When a boater ensures the DSC radio, EPIRB or PLB is registered properly, it could mean the difference between a rescue in minutes and a rescue in hours, even days.”
If the EPIRB and PLB are properly registered, the Coast Guard will be able to use the registration information to take action on a distress call immediately. If the EPIRB or PLB is unregistered, the alert may take as much as two hours longer to reach the Coast Guard over the international satellite system. If an unregistered EPIRB or PLB transmission is shortened for any reason, the satellite will be unable to determine the location and the Coast Guard will be unable to respond accurately to the distress alert.