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January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard1 406 MHz EPIRB False Alerts Cause and Prevention of False Alerts.

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Presentation on theme: "January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard1 406 MHz EPIRB False Alerts Cause and Prevention of False Alerts."— Presentation transcript:

1 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard1 406 MHz EPIRB False Alerts Cause and Prevention of False Alerts

2 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard2 EPIRB False Alerts Study Study was research project by: Larry Yarbrough, Capt, USCG (Ret) USCG District 7 (dpi) Newton Anderson, USCG Auxiliary Greg Johnson USCG Sector Charleston SC

3 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard3 Why does US Coast Guard care about EPIRB False Alerts? 96% 406 MHz EPIRB Alerts are false 85% Resolved by RCCs with registration and good detective work Projected increase in EPIRB population will bring increase in number of false alerts

4 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard4 Why does US Coast Guard care about EPIRB False Alerts? $3.6 million in A/C time and fuel on 406 MHz EPIRB false alerts in 2007 SAR crews put at risk SAR assets less available for actual distress Fatigues and dulls the SAR system

5 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard5

6 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard6 EPIRB False Alerts Study Study data limited to: –US Registered 406 MHz EPIRBs –transmitting a 406 MHz False Alert –where secondary data collection was accomplished, through RCC telephone interview of vessels owner or operator at the time of the alert Study Population came from all USMCC alerts passed to US Coast Guard RCCs

7 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard7 EPIRB False Alerts 1 May - 31 Dec 2007 USMCC received MHz EPIRB alerts 5% (83) were Distress Alerts 1494 False Alerts (non-distress and ceased/undetermined alerts)

8 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard8 EPIRB False Alerts 1494 False Alerts (non-distress and ceased/undetermined alerts) 15% - (232) Were False Alerts with enough data collected to develop evidence of circumstances causing alert transmission

9 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard9 How Long does a False Alerts Last?

10 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard10 EPIRB False Alerts False Alerts with enough data collected to develop evidence of circumstances causing alert transmission

11 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard11 Operator Induced False Alerts 10% (24) were attributed to Testing without following manufactures instructions, or other deliberate non- emergency activations 6% (13) were EPIRBs deliberately taken out of bracket and naked of any control of the wet sensor

12 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard12 False Alert and EPIRB in Bracket

13 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard13 EPIRB False Alerts 69% (161) Caused by Failure of “The bracket decoupling function” to control the EPIRB –Observed with Category I and II –Manufactures, makes and models in the US registration data base were proportionally represented by False Alerts

14 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard14 EPIRB False Alerts 69% (161) Activated when bracket should have prevented activation Failure of “The bracket decoupling function” to control the EPIRB

15 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard15 Bracket problems observed in field by Coast Guard personnel Loose straps or mechanical holding device Missing pads or guides to hold beacons in place Missing or corroded magnets

16 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard16 Bracket problems observed in field by Coast Guard personal (continued) Beacons being placed improperly in brackets by users Brackets not mounted in accordance with manufactures recommendations

17 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard17 RTCM Standard “The satellite EPIRB should not be accidentally activated or deactivated by conditions normally encountered in the maritime environment.”

18 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard18 RTCM Standard “The bracket decoupling function will guard against false alarms should the water-activation mechanism malfunction to an “on” mode. It will also prevent inadvertent activation due to the water activation mechanism becoming wet due to heavy seas or rain. … Both Category 1 and Category 2 satellite EPIRBs should have these features.”

19 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard19 EPIRB Operational Requirements Not be activated or deactivated by conditions encountered in maritime environment 69% Of False Alerts Bracket Interface Failure

20 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard20 Prevention of Inadvertent Activation Must be fitted with means to prevent inadvertent activation and deactivation. Not automatically activate when water washes over while in bracket. Most EPIRBs use bracket with magnet to disable activation circuit.

21 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard21 What to Look For Mounting Locations – will it float free?

22 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard22 What to Look For (Cont.) Mounting Locations – –Vertically – Upright –Horizontal – Flat on Deck –Not On Side –Not Upside-down –Not hanging from overhead

23 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard23 What to Look For (Cont.) HRU’s – Hydrostatic Release Unit. CG Approved ( ) Replace 2 years after purchase Installed as designed

24 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard24 Testing for the Magnets It takes just a few seconds to verify the magnet is properly installed in the bracket. The test device – an inexpensive magnetic compass. The bracket magnet will cause the compass needle to swing and point at the bracket instead of pointing at the magnetic north pole. The following slides show this occurring for several of the most frequently encountered marine EPIRBs.

25 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard25 Category 1 ACR Satellite MHz

26 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard26 Category 1 ACR Satellite MHz

27 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard27 Category 1 ACR Satellite MHz

28 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard28 Category 1 ACR Satellite MHz

29 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard29 Category 2 ACR Satellite MHz

30 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard30 Category 2 Pains Wessex 406 MHz

31 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard31 Category 2 ACR Satellite MHz

32 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard32 Category 1 McMurdo 406 GPS Note: The magnet is positioned under the EPIRB and is not visible until the EPIRB is removed.

33 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard33 Category 1 McMurdo 406 GPS

34 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard34 Category 1 Pains Wessex 406 MHz

35 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard35 Category 1 Pains Wessex 406 MHz

36 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard36 Category 2 Pains Wessex 406 MHz

37 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard37 Category 2 Pains Wessex 406 MHz

38 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard38 What to Look For (Cont.) Magnet on bracket in good condition?

39 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard39 What to Look For (Cont.) Bracket –Straps – tight –Pads and retainers –Held firmly –Less than 1/8” out of place may result in False Alert

40 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard40 What to Look For (Cont.) Antenna – In apparent good working order? –Most manufactures will replace free if contacted directly.

41 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard41 What to Look For (Cont.) Battery Exp Date – not expired

42 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard42 What to Look For (Cont.) Lanyard –ready to deploy –Not dry rotted.

43 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard43 What to Look For (Cont.) FULL FUNCTIONAL SELF-TEST: this feature, found on 406 MHz EPIRBs, tests –battery for voltage, creates a test message, sends the message, fires the strobe, and, if –equipped with it, confirms the GPS is operational by conducting a GPS Circuitry Test.

44 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard44 What to Look For (Cont.) Have master conduct self test of beacon. The instructions are on the beacon.

45 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard45 Feedback Improve feedback mechanism to Beacon manufactures that provides as much detail as possible about: – exactly which Beacons have generated a False Alert. And – circumstances surrounding the event. –Consider providing IHDB access, or a limited and redacted version that excludes protected personal data.

46 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard46 False Alerts False Alerts are a drain on the health of the EPIRB Distress Alerting System There is no one cause of EPIRB False Alerts, and there is no one fix for the problem However … Several small corrective steps will make a positive difference in this problem

47 January 2009L. T. Yabrough, U.S. Coast Guard47 Questions?


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