Coast Guard finds smoke signal combustion risk, withdraws approval

The following is a Maritime Safety Alert from the U.S. Coast Guard's Inspections and Compliance Directorate:


Distressed Distress Signal
A potentially dangerous issue.

The Coast Guard has withdrawn the Certificate of Approval (160.037/23/0) for NAMMO LIAB AB Orange Hand Smoke Distress Signal, and the approval status of this certificate is now marked as "Former- Do Not Use."  This action was taken because the chemical makeup of the signal was changed in October 2013 without Coast Guard approval and the signal that was manufactured is at risk of spontaneous combustion when dropped.

These smoke signals may be labeled and marketed as "Polar MK 4" by NAMMO LIAB AB or as "IKAROS" by Hansson Pyrotech.  "IKAROS" Hansson Pyrotech is the more current manufacturing name.  Datrex Inc., of Kinder, LA, is the only distributor for these products in the United States. There are approximately 2,790 signals with the potentially defect in the US market.

Datrex has removed all of its remaining stock from sale and is working with customers to replace these potentially dangerous signals.   Any signal manufactured after October 2013 must be properly disposed of and replaced with a product that satisfies the vessel's carriage requirements.  For questions or concerns, contact Datrex at 337-738-4511 or via email at

This safety alert was developed by the Coast Guard Office of Design and Engineering Standards and distributed by the Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis.  Any questions, comments, or incidences of accidental ignition involving these signals under this Certificate of Approval should be sent to sent to:

By Professional Mariner Staff