Radio Survey

Inadvertent activation of 406MHz EPIRBs

Category: EPIRB

Every year valuable resources are wasted in locating EPIRBs which have been activated inadvertently. Masters and Officers need to be aware that even a single burst from a 406 MHz EPIRB can be detected instantaneously by the Cospas–Sarsat GEOSAR system which will result in an RCC being alerted. 
As to US Coast Guard report: 96% 406 MHz EPIRB Alerts are false.

Should it be suspected that an EPIRB has been activated inadvertently, the Master or person responsible for the vessel must immediately advise the MRCC for their area of operation.

Sarsat Beacon Monitor


Real-time beacon monitoring is offered to be used as a tool to detect all local inadvertent activation.

406MHz Sarsat Beacon Monitor allows to locate and process all false emergency signals on local area and gives the right to port and airport authorities to contribute penalty charges for false distress signal in accordance with Cospas-Sarsat recommendations.



Category: General

Cospas-Sarsat was initially developed under a memorandum of understanding among agencies of Canada, France, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America, signed in 1979.

Through their association with the programme, States contribute ground receiving stations that enhance Cospas-Sarsat distress alerting capabilities and/or participate in international Cospas-Sarsat meetings dedicated to the worldwide coordination of system operations and programme management.

The objectives of Cospas–Sarsat are to ensure the long– term operation of the system, provide distress alert and location information on a non–discriminatory basis and support the search and rescue objectives of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).


The system comprises of:

A space segment operating in low–Earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary orbit (GEO); 

A ground segment consisting of satellite receiving stations, known as local user terminals (LUT), and data distribution centres, known as mission control centres (MCC);

Emergency radio beacons operating at 406 MHz, the characteristics of which comply with appropriate provisions of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Cospas– Sarsat specifications. 
Further information on the Cospas–Sarsat system can be found in the Admiralty List of Radio Signals (ALrS) Vol. 5.


Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons

Category: EPIRB

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) are small, portable, battery powered radio transmitters that are both watertight and buoyant and transmit in the 406.0 – 406.1 MHz channel. EPIRBs are carried aboard merchant ships, some private vessels, commercial and military aircraft. They also transmit a distinctive swept audio tone signal on the international aeronautical distress frequencies of 121.5 MHz for homing purposes by search and rescue aircraft. Aircraft at 30 000 feet can detect the audio tone signals at approximately 200 n miles.


EPIRBs are tracking transmitters which aid in the detection and location of boats, aircraft, and people in distress. A PLB (personal locator beacon) is particular type of EPIRB that is typically smaller, has a shorter battery life and unlike a proper EPIRB is registered to a person rather than a vessel. The terms ELB (emergency locator beacon) and ELT (emergency locator transmitter) are used interchangeably with EPIRB only when used on aircraft. Strictly, they are radiobeacons that interface with worldwide offered service of Cospas-Sarsat, the international satellite system for search and rescue (SAR). When manually activated, or automatically activated upon immersion or impact, such beacons send out a distress signal. The signals are monitored worldwide and the location of the distress is detected by non-geostationary satellites doppler trilateration and in more recent EPIRBs also by GPS.

The basic purpose of a distress radiobeacon is to help rescuers find survivors within the so-called "golden day" (the first 24 hours following a traumatic event) during which the majority of survivors can usually be saved.


GMDSS Equipment carriage requirements for SOLAS vessels

Category: General

Equipment requirements for GMDSS vessels vary according to the area (or areas) in which a ship operates. Coastal vessels, for example, only have to carry minimal equipment if they do not operate beyond the range of shore based VHF stations (Sea Area A1). Ships which trade further from land are required to carry MF equipment in addition to VHF (sea area A2). Ships which operate beyond MF range are required to carry HF and/or Inmarsat equipment in addition to VHF and MF (sea areas A3 and A4).

Every GMDSS ship is required to carry the following minimum equipment (as de ned by SOLAS Chapter IV, regulation 7):

- A VHF radio installation capable of transmitting DSC on channel 70, and radiotelephony on channels 16, 13 and 6; 

- A SART (Two on vessels over 500 GRT, one on vessels 300 - 500 GRT); 

- A NAVTEX receiver, if the ship is engaged on voyages in any area where a NAVTEX service is provided; 

- An Inmarsat EGC receiver, if the ship is engaged on voyages in any area of Inmarsat coverage where MSI services are not provided by NAVTEX or HF NBDP; and 

- A 406 MHz EPIRB. Vessels trading exclusively in sea area A1 may t a VHF DSC EPIRB in lieu of a 406 MHz EPIRB). 

GMDSS Sea Areas

Every passenger ship shall be provided with means of two-way on-scene radio-communications for search and rescue purposes using the aeronautical frequencies 121.5 MHz and 123.1 MHz from the position from which the ship is normally navigated. 

The carriage requirements for the various GMDSS sea areas are de ned in the following regulations taken from SOLAS Chapter IV. Detailed guidelines when implementing new GMDSS installations on board SOLAS ships should be referred to COMSAR/Circ.32. 


The International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Category: General

IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

The first tries to commonly regulate shipping and navigation were made in 1914 after the Titanic disaster. Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization or IMCO (the name of IMO until 1982) was formed to fulfill a desire to bring the regulation of the safety of shipping into an international framework, for which the creation of the United Nations provided an opportunity.


When IMCO began its operations in 1958 certain other pre-existing instruments were brought under its aegis, most notable the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil (OILPOL) 1954. Throughout its existence IMCO, renamed the IMO in 1982, has continued to produce new and updated instruments across a wide range of maritime issues covering not only safety of life and marine pollution but also encompassing safe navigation, search and rescue, wreck removal, tonnage measurement, liability and compensation, ship recycling, the training and certification of seafarers, and piracy. More recently SOLAS has been amended to bring an increased focus on maritime security through the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. The IMO has also increased its focus on air emissions from ships.

IMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations, and it is the international standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of worldwide shipping. Its main purpose is to adjust fair and effective regulatory framework for the shipping industry that should be universally adopted and universally implemented.

GMDSS Testers All in One

AIS Tester

AIS Tester

AIS Tester is professional equipment for surveyors to provide mandatory annual testing of the Class A and Class B AIS mobile stations and AIS-SARTs in accordance with requirements of IMO and SOLAS. Complies with with IMO circular letter “Guidelines on annual testing of the AIS unit MSC.1/Circ.1252”.



BEACON TESTER enables professional checking of all types of maritime emergency radio beacons that operate in COSPAS-SARSAT system like EPIRBs, PLB. Provides mandatory annual EPIRB testing in accordance with IMO Circular MSC.1/Circ.1039, 1040.

Beacon Tester Mini Wi-Fi

Beacon Tester Mini Wi-Fi

EPIRB Tester Mini w/ W-Fi is the fourth generation Beacon Tester appointed to check the maritime distress beacons (EPIRBs, PLBs) operating via COSPAS-SARSAT system. This device is really lightweight and is capable to operate via Wi-Fi with any smartphone, tablet or laptop. Its operation complies with SOLAS regulation, IMO 1039 and 1040 Circulars.



GMDSS Multi Tester MRTS-7M is the first hand-held Multi Tester enabling the testing of all GMDSS equipment: AIS Stations, EPIRBs, VHF and MF/HF Radios with DSC, AIS-SART and NAVTEX. The cutting-edge software is compatible with all operation systems. Automatic generation of test reports for all the range of tested equipment. And all reports are in IMO-required format. Less paper work, more surveys!