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Old 24-07-2013, 03:10   #1
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EPIRB Registration

The Nina threads have prompted quite a lot of discussion on EPIRB registration.

One stumbling block is that EPIRBs purchased in another country or region cannot be assigned to a boat registered elsewhere.

This is a common complaint of cruising sailors who have purchased a second hand boat and change the boat's country of registration.
It has also caught out a few sailors who have purchased an EPIRB while overseas.

This seems a stupid flaw in the system. The Hex ID is unique. Surely the system can assign the correct details no matter where the EPIRB was purchased.

Is there a way around the problem?
Can we campaign for a change in the system?
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Old 24-07-2013, 05:37   #2
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Re: EPIRB Registration

This comes off USA's NOAA becon registration site

"Important: NOAA's beacon registration database only accepts registration applications to include the country codes of: Alaska (303), Hawaii (338), Puerto Rico (358), US Virgin Islands (379), Northern Marianas Islands (536), American Samoa (559), and the contiguous United States (366, 367, 368, & 369). If you do not have a beacon coded for these areas you cannot register your beacon with NOAA. Contact your beacon manufacturer to see where to register your beacon if you own a non-U.S.A. coded beacon. You may also find information for registering non-U.S.A. coded beacon on the Cospas-Sarsat website. "

I think I remember other's having the problem and just registering the EPIRB wherever it was purchased...yes you would have to research the country code...

start here...it may be a small maze but not impossible...

International Cospas-Sarsat Programme

On my registration...it doesn't seem to care about nationality..just wants an address/email for notification info and then emergency contact info.
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Old 24-07-2013, 06:10   #3
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Re: EPIRB Registration

Thanks for the link.

I did spend a long time at one boat show discussing this at length with a very nice lady from a government SAR organisation. This was a few years ago so maybe things have changed.

She could call up all my boat details on her computer, but could not add the HEX number for my EPIRB as the boat was purchased second hand with a different country of registration (complete with EPIRB).

She was very concerned that there was no way to link this EPIRB to me.
The system would simply not accept the HEX number in the little box that said "enter HEX number".

I did enquire about of re-coding the EPIRB, but with delivery the cost was similar to new EPIRB, presumably by the time it has been opened up and the seal broken etc

The situation is further complicated because buying a new EPIRB in your country of registration when back on holidays can create hassles with some airlines.

To have to purchase an EPIRB in your country of registration seems an unnecessary complication. The number of unregistered, or incorrectly registered EPIRBs as a consequence must inhibit SAR response and waste resources.
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Old 24-07-2013, 06:20   #4
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Re: EPIRB Registration

Thanks for this info. I wasn't aware of the issue.
I can only guess, but it sounds like it could be an issue of database integrity. NOAA (and the other nations' agencies) may feel it is necessary to use a MMSI country code in the beacon number to insure that any beacon in their database will not also show up in a foreign database for a different vessel/owner. It may also be an issue of differing laws on handling of privacy information between the various countries.

It would be nice to know the real underlying reason for this restriction.

John

Edited to Add: Putting the country code in the Beacon ID also tells the agency receiving a distress call to which country's database to direct the inquiry on the boat and owner info, rather than having to broadcast it to multiple databases.
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Old 24-07-2013, 06:40   #5
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Re: EPIRB Registration

Quote:
Originally Posted by jstevens View Post
Edited to Add: Putting the country code in the Beacon ID also tells the agency receiving a distress call to which country's database to direct the inquiry on the boat and owner info, rather than having to broadcast it to multiple databases.
Thanks for the reply.
These days an automated computer search of all data bases could easily be done in a few seconds.
If the EPIRB is unregistered there is the potential for a lot of wasted SAR time, in the case of an accidental deployment, that could be canceled if the owner can be contacted.

If the EPIRB cannot be registered the boat owner can hardy be blamed for not doing so.
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Old 24-07-2013, 06:58   #6
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Re: EPIRB Registration

"These days an automated computer search of all data bases could easily be done in a few seconds."
Yes, it can be done, but not necessarily reliably. How many databases are there? What if you get multiple hits for the same EPRB with different vessel info? Easier and safer to control the registration. Allow each country to insure the integrity of their database.
The answer is one consolidated world-wide database, but I doubt that is going to happen.
If the EPRB cannot be registered buy one that can be. Compared the other costs of equipping an off-shore vessel this is a nit.

John
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Old 24-07-2013, 07:06   #7
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Re: EPIRB Registration

I bought my EPIRB in St Martin, the Caribbean, and Australia wanted $30 to register it in Australia so I registered with
www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov for free.
its possible to do as there is an override button when you submit the form.
It cautions you there is an error and then you click accept with errors and it works.
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Old 24-07-2013, 07:20   #8
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Re: EPIRB Registration

Thanks Mark it sounds like there is way around the problem. Much appreciated.
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Old 24-07-2013, 07:22   #9
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Re: EPIRB Registration

Ooops! just checked WM and EPIRBS are no longer a nit. The last one (no GPS, but NMEA interface) I bought in 2007 cost less than $300. I couldn't find one on the WM website for less than $700. Maybe we should start funding that worldwide database.

John
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Old 24-07-2013, 07:23   #10
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Re: EPIRB Registration

I once registered a 'foreign' epirb with OFCOM (UK comms department), and they did not have any difficulty with the hex code.
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Old 24-07-2013, 08:32   #11
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Re: EPIRB Registration

The system is only as good as the information provided by its users. In the USA, you can update your EPIRB information on line in about 3 minutes with NOAA. It is required that you review the information every two years, even if the emergency information doesn't change.

http://beaconregistration.noaa.gov/rgdb/

Many people forget or don't do it for one reason or another, so the information is bad. This will slow or maybe even cause no response to a EPIRB activation.

An EPIRB with a Lithium Battery is a problem on an airplane and considered a fire hazard, since they sometime overheat and burst into flame. Contacting the airline directly and asking about carry the EPIRB in your checked luggage might work and get it threw Airport Security.

Otherwise your only option is ordering a new one from your country and having it shipped to where ever you are.
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Old 24-07-2013, 09:23   #12
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Re: EPIRB Registration

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post

(...)

One stumbling block is that EPIRBs purchased in another country or region cannot be assigned to a boat registered elsewhere.

(...)
I probably read you wrongly.

In our case EPIRB purchased in NZ and registered to a non NZ-boat; no issue.

Now in Canaries, many visitors buy EPIRBs prior to departure and no-one reports having problem registering theirs.

b.
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Old 24-07-2013, 09:56   #13
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Re: EPIRB Registration

Barankiel,
I think the issue is registering an EPIRB with one country that was purchased in (and coded for) another country.
That said, other posters seem to have not had a problem doing this.

John
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Old 24-07-2013, 13:13   #14
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Re: EPIRB Registration

By the way, as an (important) aside on registering epirbs (and dsc radios) . . . . I have been involved in many accident/incident reviews and it is important/critical that the person you list as your emergency contact:
#1 will answer the phone at 1:30am (which seems to be when incidents happen) and the phone number is a number they will have with them (eg their cell phone and not their work phone),
#2 will always know where you are sailing, and hopefully have a float plan and crew list and boat emergency numbers (cell phone & sat phone, mmsi)
#3 knows enough about nautical stuff to at least understand a lat/long and time in UTC
#4 can deal calmly with an emergency.
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Old 24-07-2013, 13:20   #15
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Re: EPIRB Registration

I bought my boat and EPIRB in the states. Then i set off for Bermuda and on arrival changed the flag of the vessel to Bermuda. When i set off again (for the Caribbean) i got an e-mail from Bermuda Radio saying that my EPIRB was incorrectly registered (it was still registered to a US vessel of course) and that it could delay (but not prohibit) a rescue effort. As they explained it, if i set off the EPIRB the NOAA would be contacted for boat information first. They would then contact Bermuda Radio since the address and contact details i had given when i registered the beacon were in Bermuda. BDA radio would then take over. Basically, they told me i need to re-program my beacon with a Bermuda MMSI number and then re-register the beacon with the Bermuda authorities. It's made doubly complicated because you can't buy EPIRBs in Bermuda and no-one is able to program them here. I need to send it back to the US to have it re-programmed, but when i contacted a US EPIRB specialist to inquire about this they had no idea how to do this with a Bermuda MMSI. Next i am going to try contacting the manufacturer directl. I'll probably have to buy a whole new EPIRB and paying a fortune to have a 'special' EPIRB coded to Bermuda.......... sure would like that universal database!

I think it's pretty easy getting an EPIRB programmed with a US code, and registering it is a breeze online, but getting it done for a small country that doesn't sell their own EPIRBs has been a real pain for me so far.........
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