Just pop the EPIRB and within moments all the manpower and technology of a SAR operation will chopper out to rescue you from the clutches of the deep. That’s what’s supposed to happen but as research being carried out by our good friends Robin Storm and John Konrad, it ain’t necessarily so, as the song says.
They’ve been looking at EPIRB failures since the sinking of the S/V Sean Seymour II and uncovered a disturbing number of failures of this critical safety device to operate as designed.
Says Robin: “They are extremely important pieces of life safety equipment that all mariners need to take seriously. Moreover when they fail, they can for anumber of reasons. Some mechanical, some weather related, some because of poor maintenance, some because of improper registration and some fail because of the poor positioning by mariners on their vessels or they just don’t turn them on… While there are independent test reports on why GPIRB and EPIRB might fail to some degree. There is very limited follow up when they do actually fail.”
A point he makes is: “More frightening still, is how many mariners never make it back to report or relate what happened. It seems that no one knows for sure what the actual failure rates are”
Among those mariners unable to tell us what happened to the EPIRBS on their ships are, of course, the crews of the Rezzak and the Reef Azania.
Check out the research here and if you have examples of EPIRB/GPIRB failures either email Robin/John or drop MAC a line and we’ll forward them.