Epirb: what it is, how it works, and how it can save your life in an emergency


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In an emergency, the Epirb is the only life-saving tool that can accurately report the location of the boat in distress, alerting rescue. Epirb mandatory? Yes, on board for navigation beyond fifty miles.

EPIRB operation

Epirb stands for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon; it is a system that with a radio message alerts the rescue machine on particular frequencies. The signal from an Epirb, launched on the 406 or 121.5 MHz radio frequencies, is initially picked up by satellites or aircraft, then bounced to LUT (Local User Terminal) stations located around the world, which store and encode it; it is then transmitted to MCC (Mission Control Center) centers and finally sent to RCC (Rescue Control Center) centers that are responsible for mobilizing and coordinating rescue resources.

In Italian territory, the LUT Station of the satellite system is located in Bari Palese, the MCC is that of the Coast Guard operations center in Rome, and the various RCCs are represented by the headquarters of the Harbour Offices located along the coasts. The satellite system used is Cospas- Sarsat. In the Mediterranean area, a maximum of 2 hours elapse from the time a request for help is launched to the time the station receives it and sends help.


Epirb frequencies have changed since February 2009. 121.5 MHz is no longer operational. Satellites receiving the 121.5 MHz frequency have been deactivated, while 406 MHz satellites remain active. Some among the newer models are also equipped with a GPS receiver or GPS interface so as to ensure increasingly accurate location by rescuers. Portable models are priced from around 450 euros; state-of-the-art models with dual frequencies and built-in GPS can cost around 900 euros.


GlobalFix TM iPRO is the first EPIRB to offer Dual GPS technology. Interface your iPRO to your internal GPS to ensure that LAT / LON are also stored on the on-board instrument so that coordinates can be transmitted immediately. The iPRO’s internal GPS is optimized for cold starts and is tested and perfected at ACR’s GPS Simulation Center, so it pinpoints the exact location quickly. It features a digital display.

epirb globalfix

GME / MT403 FF

Version with GPS 66 channels or without, automatic release upon immersion with water via hydrostatic hook, long-life battery (6 years); 6-year warranty; COSPAS-SARSAT Class 2 compliant, equipped with high intensity strobe light and zero warm technology for immediate activation without waiting for preheating. A must-have tool for those who tackle deep-sea navogations and choose maximum safety.


Epirb GME MT403FF

GME / MT403

Epirb with manual or immersion activation with digital technology. Warranty and battery life 6 years. The MT403 has a quick release housing and when removed can be activated manually or automatically by dipping. In fact, all GME EPIRBs are equipped with sea-switches, which are two small metal contacts placed on the side of the EPIRB: once both contacts come in contact with water they activate the EPIRB automatically. www.osculati.com

epirb GME-MT-403


The McMurdo SmartFind G8 AIS is an EPIRB that includes the gps system to speed up search and rescue. The unique power of these new beacons is their flexibility and additional long-term tracking capabilities. This will further reduce rescue time by combining the global localization power of 406MHz with the localized rescue capabilities of AIS, introduced for the first time in the world in McMurdo’s AIS MOB range.




Ocean Signal developed the E100 model to meet the needs of all commercial, fishing, or pleasure vessels. SafeSea EPIRBs operate on the 406MHz satellite band, constantly monitored by Cospas-Sarsat, the international constellation of search and rescue satellites that ensures rapid response upon receipt of a signal, from wherever in the world it is emitted. This product is made for maximum efficiency, with a very long battery life, ensuring that your location will be updated at the rescue services for a long time.All models are equipped with a 121.5MHz light signal used by civilian aviation rescues for nearby searches or ships in distress. In addition, all models have an extremely bright LED to provide additional ‘visibility, especially at night.



How the rescue system works with COSPAS-SARSAT

1) The alarm is raised by a rescue apparatus;
2) Polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites pick up Sos’s signal;
3) Earth stations receive the satellite signal;
4) Control and mission centers triage the Sos to rescuers.



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