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Subelement D
Other Equipment
Section 21
EPIRBs
What is an EPIRB?
  • Correct Answer
    A battery-operated emergency position-indicating radio beacon that floats free of a sinking ship.
  • An alerting device notifying mariners of imminent danger.
  • A satellite-based maritime distress and safety alerting system.
  • A high-efficiency audio amplifier.

What is an EPIRB?

(A). A battery-operated emergency position-indicating radio beacon that floats free of a sinking ship.

Emergency Poisition Radio Indicating Beacon

EPIRBs are affixed with float free devices to the ship. The signal is generated for help from any point on the Earth. The signal announces distress to rescue coordination locations.

The beacon at 406 MHz is transmitted to the COSPAS SARSAT network of satellites orbiting the Earth. The units are integrated with the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, known as GMDSS.

For more info, please see US Coast Guard article on EMERGENCY POSITION INDICATING RADIO BEACON (EPIRB)

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When are EPIRB batteries changed?
  • After emergency use; after battery life expires.
  • Correct Answer
    After emergency use or within the month and year replacement date printed on the EPIRB.
  • After emergency use; every 12 months when not used.
  • Whenever voltage drops to less than 20% of full charge.

When are EPIRB batteries changed?

(B). After emergency use or within the month and year replacement date printed on the EPIRB.

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 46 Chapter I Subchapter T Part 185 Subpart
G - Operational Readiness, Maintenance, and Inspection of Lifesaving Equipment

§ 185.728 Testing and servicing of Emergency Position Indicating Radiobeacons (EPIRB).

The master of the vessel shall ensure that:

46 CFR 185.728(a) Each EPIRB, other than an EPIRB in an inflatable liferaft, must be tested monthly, using the integrated test circuit and output indicator, to determine that it is operative;

46 CFR 185.728(b) The EPIRB's battery is replaced after it is used, or before the date required by FCC regulations in 47 CFR part 80, whichever comes sooner; and

46 CFR 185.728(c) The EPIRB test required by paragraph (a) shall be logged or otherwise documented, as applicable.

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If a ship sinks, what device is designed to float free of the mother ship, is turned on automatically and transmits a distress signal?
  • Correct Answer
    An emergency position indicating radio beacon.
  • EPIRB on 2182 kHz and 405.025 kHz.
  • Bridge-to-bridge transmitter on 2182 kHz.
  • Auto alarm keyer on any frequency.

If a ship sinks, what device is designed to float free of the mother ship, is turned on automatically and transmits a distress signal?

(A). An emergency position indicating radio beacon.

An EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) transmits on 406 MHz.

  • B is incorrect. Even though 'EPIRB' is in the answer, the frequencies listed are wrong.

  • C is incorrect because of the frequency, and because it's not a bridge-to-bridge transmitter.

  • D is incorrect. EPIRB's may be considered an 'auto alarm', but it transmits on a specific frequency, not 'on any frequency.'

For more info, see Marine Insight's site for article on What is An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)?

And, also see Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking

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How do you cancel a false EPIRB distress alert?
  • Transmit a DSC distress alert cancellation.
  • Transmit a broadcast message to “all stations” canceling the distress message.
  • Correct Answer
    Notify the Coast Guard or rescue coordination center at once.
  • Make a radiotelephony “distress cancellation” transmission on 2182 kHz.

How do you cancel a false EPIRB distress alert?

(C). Notify the Coast Guard or rescue coordination center at once.

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 47 Chapter I Subchapter D Part 80 Subpart G - Safety Watch Requirements and Procedures

§ 80.335 Procedures for canceling false distress alerts.

If a distress alert is inadvertently transmitted, the following steps shall be taken to cancel the distress alert.

47 CFR 80.335(e) EPIRB. If for any reason an EPIRB is activated inadvertently, immediately contact the nearest U.S. Coast Guard unit or appropriate rescue coordination center by telephone, radio or ship earth station and cancel the distress alert.

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What is the COSPAS-SARSAT system?
  • A global satellite communications system for users in the maritime, land and aeronautical mobile services.
  • Correct Answer
    An international satellite-based search and rescue system.
  • A broadband military satellite communications network.
  • A Wide Area Geostationary Satellite program (WAGS).

What is the COSPAS-SARSAT system?

(B). An international satellite-based search and rescue system.

COSPAS = Cosmicheskaya Sistema Poiska Avariynyh Sudov, Russian for "Space System for the Search of Vessels in Distress"
SARSAT = Search And Rescue SATellite

The Russian literal translation is Cosmic System of Position of Breakdown of Ships, COSPAS.

Just remember, SARSAT (SAR = Search And Rescue; SAT = satellite), and you'll get the right answer.

COSPAS SARSAT web site, great for more info

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What is an advantage of a 406 MHz satellite EPIRB?
  • It is compatible with the COSPAS-SARSAT Satellites and Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) regulations.
  • Provides a fast, accurate method for the Coast Guard to locating and rescuing persons in distress.
  • Includes a digitally encoded message containing the ship’s identity and nationality.
  • Correct Answer
    All of the above.

What is an advantage of a 406 MHz satellite EPIRB?

(D). All of the above.

  • It is compatible with the COSPAS-SARSAT Satellites and Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) regulations.

  • Provides a fast, accurate method for the Coast Guard to locating and rescuing persons in distress.

  • Includes a digitally encoded message containing the ship’s identity and nationality.

The 406 MHz satellite EPIRB provides global coverage, using low orbit polar-position satellites, under 406 MHz beacon. The coverage may not be immediate when EPIRB beacon is transmitted.

This system accepted internationally as a radiocommunication service to respond in distress situations once the location is determined whether for ships or planes.

For more info, please see US Coast Guard article on EMERGENCY POSITION INDICATING RADIOBEACON (EPIRB)

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