NTSB issues personal locator device alert

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a safety alert urging vessel owners and operators to provide every crewmember with a personal locator device. 

During an emergency, a mariner’s chance of survival decreases if searchers cannot quickly and accurately identify their location. The use of personal locator devices, such as personal locator beacons (PLB) or satellite emergency notification devices (SEND), is “strongly advised” as NTSB investigations found that available personal locator beacons provide a location accuracy of about 100 yards and a nearly instant search and rescue notification when activated.

Vessel owners and operators “should determine the best type of personal locator device for their crews” as some devices transmit via satellite, while others transmit on terrestrial frequencies, and not all devices notify the Coast Guard directly; provide each crewmember a personal locator device and ensure they carry it in a zipped clothing pocket or attached to personal flotation devices or a bag secured to a belt; and register each crewmember’s personal locator device with the appropriate organization. Personal locator beacons must be registered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), while SEND and similar devices should be registered through the manufacturer or operating company.