Tracking down unregistered EPIRBs has kept Northern Territory Water Police crews busy this long weekend.
Water Police, Border Force aircraft and Commercial Barge responded to a beacon activation off the coast of Croker Island on Friday night. On arrival the skipper of the fishing vessel in the area advised authorities he had not activated his EPIRB, and coincidently the signal stopped.
Water authorities were alerted to a beacon activation in the same area the following morning, and this time contacted the skipper by phone to confirm his exact location. Further inquiries revealed the skipper was carrying a life raft containing a faulty EPIRB, which he was unaware of. The faulty EPIRB has now been disabled.
Water authorities responded to another EPIRB activation near the mouth of the Little Finniss River yesterday morning. The same EPIRB had activated in the same area last weekend, but was unable to be located before the signal was lost and the search stood down. “You’re left with an uneasy feeling when the signal goes out before you’re able to get a spot location on the beacon”, said Sgt Andrew Hocking from the NT Water Police Operations.
This time Border Force crews tracked down the signal and provided images of the vessel to Water Police, who waited for the four fisho’s on board the boat at the Dundee Ramp. Ironically, the same EPIRB had done the same thing two years ago. So after two years and three searches, the EPIRB, which was out of date by two years, not registered correctly and faulty, has finally been deactivated.
Sgt Hocking said, “If you spend the time and money to purchase an EPIRB for the safety of your family and friends, then take 5 minutes to properly register the Beacon. Being able to ring the owner of the EPIRB, or their contacts, enables rescue organisations to gain important information immediately. This can save everybody very valuable time, and maybe even save your life.”
You can register your EPIRB on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) website. It is an offence to be in open waters without an in date and registered EPIRB.