Sheerness RNLI lifeboat crew respond to early morning distress alert

Lifeboats News Release

The Sheerness all weather lifeboat was launched after an electronic distress beacon had been activated

The volunteer crew of the Sheerness RNLI all weather lifeboat, The George and Ivy Swanson, were called at 3.37am on Monday 17 October to reports that  an emergency position-indicating beacon (EPIRB) signal had been picked up on the 406khz radio frequency which indicates a distress call.

The signal had been transmitted from the area of Number 27 Buoy which is in Gillingham Reach in the River Medway.

Second coxswain Paul Jarvis said: 'An extensive search of the area was made using searchlights and direction finding equipment but nothing untoward was found and the lifeboat returned to station at 5.15am.’

An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB, is used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency. It does this by transmitting a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency via satellite and earth stations to the nearest rescue co-ordination centre.

Some EPIRBs also have built-in GPS which enables the rescue services to accurately locate you to within 50 metres.

EPIRBs are generally installed on boats and can either be operated automatically after an incident or manually. In most countries they are mandated to be used in all commercial shipping. However, they are also used on yachts and leisure boats

RNLI media contacts

• Vic Booth RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer (Sheerness)  07926904453 / 01795 880544 /
• Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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