norwegian epirb critical fault

Norwegian vessels have been warned of a critical fault with the EPIRB system

The Norwegian Maritime Directorate has been informed that the Main Rescue Centre does not receive emergency messages from EPIRB, an emergency beacon transmitter sent via the Cospas-Sarsat emergency system.

The report from the Norwegian Maritime Directorate refers to the fact that there are emergency messages programmed with MMSI 98MIDxxxx under Norwegian country code 257/258/259 that do not go through in emergencies.

It has been discovered that emergency messages with this programming are filtered out, and thus are not handled as an emergency message. It will then not lead to a SAR operation, the Norwegian Maritime Directorate emphasises.

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It is stated that the error affects several Norwegian vessels that have emergency beacons on board their “daughter crafts”, and which are programmed with MMSI 98MIDxxxx.

Vessels certified according to the Polar Code, and which have “daughter crafts” with EPIRB, are asked to pay special attention.

Affected emergency beacon transmitters must be reprogrammed. Shipowners are asked to contact the dealer of EPIRB as soon as possible, points out the Norwegian Maritime Directorate.

“The Norwegian Maritime Directorate is following the case further and will assess the need to issue a safety report,” says Leiv Andreas Austreid, Deputy Director of the Cargo Ships and Movable Facilities subdivision.

Emergency equipment not activated

The report from the Norwegian Maritime Directorate does not provide information on why the report on critical errors in emergency beacon transmitters is now being issued.

At the same time, and regardless of the message from the directorate, Fiskeribladet had a notice on Sunday where it is pointed out that neither the emergency beacon transmitter nor other safety equipment was activated, neither manually nor automatically after the accident with “Peik” at Gamvik.

Jotron, which is the leading manufacturer of emergency beacon transmitters for the Norwegian market, has been contacted in the case and Jan Erik Sæter at the company’s support department explains, among other things, how the trigger mechanism for the free-flow transmitters (EPIRB) works.

“The system is the same for rafts and emergency beacon transmitters. A certain amount of water pressure is needed to trigger them, if you do not do it manually. A safety margin must be entered here to prevent false alarms. For example, by flushing with water on board or by exposing the mechanisms to stresses at sea,” he tells Fiskeribladet.

It is problematic in the notice that important safety functions on board did not work as expected in the accident outside Slettnes, in that neither the emergency beacon transmitter nor the life raft were triggered. Both systems are dependent on hydrostatic triggers – where the water pressure puts the emergency beacon transmitter into operation or allows for automatic inflation of the life raft. But for that to happen, the hydrostat trigger must be two to four feet underwater. Nothing indicates so far that neither the boat nor the rescue equipment in this case has been down to such a depth, it is pointed out in the article in Fiskeribladet.

The AIBN is working to find causal links after the accident, where the Fiskarlaget’s former leader Reidar Nilsen (74) is still missing. His son Remi Andre Nilsen (43) was found dead on January 9, the same day as the search for the vessel was launched.

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Norwegian Maritime Directorate finds critical fault with EPIRB system

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