Proper EPRIBs use is critical says the Marshall Islands

The Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) Maritime Administrator has issued an important reminder after an increase in both false Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) distress alerts and issues with their registration.

The Ship Registry has reminded the industry of India’s Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) iMerchant Shipping Notice No. 04 of 2023 which highlights that EPIRBs should be registered and deregistered as required. Otherwise, false EPIRB alerts can obstruct and delay Search and Rescue operations. Fines may also be levied for false EPRIB distress alerts in Indian waters.

According to the regulation IV/ 7.1 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974, every ship shall be provided with EPIRBs which shall be type approved by the Administration and shall conform to appropriate performance standards not inferior to those adopted by the IMO.

RMI would like to further advise that in addition to applicable, local regulations, all RMI-flagged vessels must also comply with the requirements in RMI Marine Notice 4-033-5, Programming, Testing, and Disposition of Satellite EPRIBS and EPRDS:

EPIRB and EPRDs, including PLBs, that have a direct link to an RMI-flagged ship must be registered with the Administrator.
The RMI’s Maritime Identification Digits (MID) are 538, which must precede a vessels’ MMSI or unique radio call sign in all EPIRB related messages.

EPIRB and EPRD Programming

Shipowners or operators must ensure that the satellite EPIRB and EPRD suppliers have appropriately programmed the units onboard RMI-flagged vessels as follows:
– EPIRBs’ 15-digit Hex-ID must be programmed to decode to either the MMSI number or call-sign on the COSPAS-SARSAT website; and
– PLBs that are permanently part of a vessel’s inventory must be programmed to decode with the vessel’s MMSI on the COSPAS-SARSAT website.

When a vessel’s EPIRBs or EPRDs, including permanent inventory PLBs, are relocated:
– from one RMI-flagged vessel to another RMI-flagged vessel, the Administrator must be notified of the relocation at;
– from any RMI-flagged vessel to a foreign-flagged vessel, they must be reprogrammed; and
– to be taken out of service or for vessel scrapping, they must be properly disposed of.

EPIRB Testing

To ensure that the EPIRBs are transmitting the correct identification number on the correct frequency, an annual test must be conducted by a qualified technician, in accordance with SOLAS Chapter IV/15.9.1. The corresponding test certificate that authenticates the test results must be attached to the EPIRB. Refer to IMO Circular MSC.1/Circ.1040/Rev.2 for guidance on the annual tests.

EPIRB and EPRD Disposal

EPRIBs and EPRDs, including PLBs, must be properly disposed of to avoid false alerts and danger to the environment and human life. If there are manufacturer instructions for disposal, they should be followed.

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