Changes in satellite monitoring could affect boat owners' safety

If your Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is more than a few years old, it may be set up to transmit on a frequency that will not be monitored from early next year.

From 1 February 2009, the 121.5/243 MHz satellite processing service will be terminated.

All EPIRBs and PLBs that transmit on 121.5/243 MHz will cease to be monitored, after which, beacons transmitting on this frequency can only be used as a short-range homing signal.

Cruising Manager Stuart Carruthers of the Royal Yachting Association explains: “All modern beacons transmitting on 406 MHz, will not be affected by the change.

“However some of the older ones transmit on 121.5/243 MHz and following a number of issues and the negative impact caused by large numbers of false alerts arriving at search and rescue services, the decision was taken to discontinue monitoring this frequency.

“The important thing is that people check their beacons and make sure that they are not redundant. From a safety point of view, this is paramount.”

For further information see Cospas-Sarsat Phase-Out of 121.5/243 MHz Alerting Services