Best-Case SAR Scenario

Get an overview of the best-case search and rescue scenario after you activate an EPIRB.

November 10, 2011

1. **0000-0020: Activate COSPAS-SARSAT System **
• East of Africa, the EPIRB aboard Misadventure begins transmitting the 15 hexadecimal ID number while its GPS searches the satellites to get a fix.
• GEOSAR satellites MSG-2 and INSAT-3A pick up the distress signal and transmit it to seven LUTs in seven countries, including India and the United Kingdom.
• LUTs pass the transmission on to MCCs worldwide, including USMCC, in the United States, and ASMCC, in South Africa.
• ASMCC issues an alert message to the RCC in Cape Town, MRCC Cape Town, and to USMCC.

2. 0000-0020: Fix Vessel Position
• The GPS gets a fix. The EPIRB begins transmitting position information that automatically passes to all parties through the COSPAS-SARSAT System.

3. **0020-0100: Verify emergency signal **
• USMCC forwards the alert to the U.S. Coast Guard LANTAREA RCC.
• LANTAREA RCC accesses the beacon registration and obtains the owner’s emergency-contact information.
• LANTAREA RCC contacts the listed person, who confirms the vessel with two aboard was located 300 nautical miles southwest of Madagascar eight hours earlier.
• LANTAREA RCC contacts ASMCC and verifies the emergency signal.


4. **0100-0300: Determine jurisdiction and available SAR assets **
Misadventure lies at the intersection of four rescue areas: South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Réunion; ASMCC contacts RCCs in each country and negotiates jurisdiction.
• Since no other country involved has SAR assets that can be deployed, MRCC Cape Town takes the lead in rescue coordination.

5. 0300-0500: Evaluate Rescue Options
• MRCC Cape Town alerts commercial shipping through the AMVER system and contacts the South African military to find out if air assets can reach the distressed vessel.
• South African C-130s can be available at first light for SAR. Given the location, 450 nautical miles off the South Africa coast, at the very limit of a C-130’s range, air assets will only be used if no ships are available.
• Contact is established with two ships, m/v Too Far, with an ETA of 24 hours, and m/v Safe Haven, with an ETA of 12 hours.

6. **0500-1700: Deploy SAR assets **
Safe Haven asked to respond while Too Far stands by.
Safe Haven steams toward Misadventure‘s last known position; Safe Haven‘s ETA is 1700.
• MRCC Cape Town remains in contact with all parties and regularly updates the position and situation.


7. **1700-2000: Make contact with distressed vessel **
Safe Haven reaches Misadventure‘s reported position but can’t make visual contact with the vessel. Misadventure, although less than a mile away, is dismasted and awash and all but invisible.
Safe Haven begins square search while broadcasting on VHF Channel 16. Safe Haven makes contact as darkness falls.
Misadventure‘s crew transfers to Safe Haven in a life raft. Misadventure is scuttled.

Read more about activating an EPIRB from Beth A. Leonard, and find online resources, including a complete glossary of SAR terms, here.


More How To