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COSPAS-SARSAT EPIRB change Frequency Notice

Emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB, Emergency position indicating radio beacon), due to the operating frequency in the vicinity of 406MHz is often referred to as 406, also known as emergency radio position indicating beacon.


EPIRB from the initial use to the present, its operating channel has experienced 406.025MHz, 406.028MHz, 406.031MHz, 406.037MHz, 406.040MHz a total of five channels, at present, according to the resolution of the MSC.471, July 1, 2022, the latest installation of the EPIRB using 406.031MHz channel.


However, the International Satellite Organization for Search and Rescue (COSPAS-SARSAT) has recently issued a notice on the frequency change of distress emergency beacon. From January 1, 2025, the 406.076 MH channel (S channel) will be opened for the emergency beacon, and from July 1 of the same year, the 406.031 MHz channel (D channel) will be closed.


Seeing this notice, some people are happy and some people are worried, is it that the new EPIRBs installed on board for two years have to be replaced by new ones, and the original 406.031MHz is closed, so do I continue to use the original equipment on board?


In fact, this is a misunderstanding of the circular. Soon China Classification Society (CCS) also issued a notice “on the IMO issued in the 406 MHz frequency work in the self-floating emergency radio beacon (EPIRB) new performance standards (MSC.471 (101) resolution) of the technical circular” to explain.


With the widespread use of 406 MHz satellite emergency beacon, the number of its communication channels continues to grow rapidly and become saturated. In order to achieve a proper distribution of beacon carrier frequencies in the 406.0-406.1 MHz band so as to ensure that the capacity of each channel is not exceeded, COSPAS-SARSAT has developed a 406 MHz channel allocation plan (C/ST.012). This plan specifies the operating frequencies of new beacons to be submitted for type approval testing in the coming years, and IMO revised the performance criteria for the 406 MHz satellite emergency beacon EPIRB (resolution A.810(19)) by resolution MSC.120(74) to make it clear that the beacon carrier frequency would be changed.


This is also a scheduled change as in the past, so what is the impact on manufacturers, ship owners and third party inspection organizations?


This notice is not a requirement for manufacturers to immediately stop production of 406.031MHz this channel EPIRB equipment, this channel change will still continue the previous policy, allowing July 1, 2025 has been approved by the type of EPIRB continue to be used in the original set operating frequency. However, products that do form approval after July 1, 2025 need to meet the technical requirements of this channel 406.076MHz. And for shipowners have no impact at all, only equipment can work properly, you can continue to use, although the new equipment has been using 406.031MHz for more than two years, but 406.037MHz there are still a large number of ships in use is a proof of this, so do not have to worry about the problem of equipment can not be used. The third-party inspection agency will have to do a good job of radio annual inspection equipment hardware and software updates, if not to support the new frequency of the tester will be scrapped, which will be the next year’s classification societies maritime annual audit of the focus of attention to the content.


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