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Coast Guard saves 2 men off Molokai thanks to registered EPIRB

The Coast Guard rescued two fishers off Molokai after their vessel reportedly capsized, Thursday.

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Station Maui and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point responded. The aircrew located the fishers and hoisted them to safety, before returning them to Molokai.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Joint Response Coordination Center Honolulu received an emergency position indicating radio beacon alert with a location south of Molokai at 12:06 p.m. They called the phone number registered to the EPIRB confirming, in turn, a blue and white 18-foot recreational vessel launched out of Kaunakakai Harbor, Molokai, Thursday morning with two men aboard to go fishing.

“If these men did not have an EPIRB, they might not be coming home tonight,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Shamica Titus, search and rescue planner, JRCC Honolulu. “Having the beacon registered and our prompt notification by it gave us information to work from sooner than an overdue report and a place to start searching. This action can save hours, maybe days, in a search and make the difference between life and death at sea.”

The aircrew arrived on scene at 1:32 p.m., spotted the overturned vessel shortly after and hoisted the two men out of the water.

The fishers reported a wave hit and overturned their vessel. They were able to swim out from under the boat but unable to call for help; one swam back under the boat to manually activate the emergency beacon leading to their swift rescue.

Weather on scene was reported as 25 mph east winds with 4-foot seas.

In 2017, within the United States and its surrounding waters, more than 275 people owe their rescue to the use of 406 MHz EPIRBs and NOAA satellites, which are part of the international search and rescue satellite-aided tracking system. This system uses a sprawling network of spacecraft to detect and locate distress signals quickly from emergency beacons aboard boats, aircraft and handheld personal locator beacons.

•An EPIRB is a device that is designed to transmit a distress signal if you get into trouble. No matter where you are in the world, an EPIRB sends a signal to emergency responders through a satellite system called COPAS-SARSAT.

• This system uses a sprawling network of spacecraft to detect and locate distress signals quickly from emergency beacons aboard boats, aircraft and handheld personal locator beacons.

• Always ensure you are conducting self-tests according to the manufacturer’s instructions for your EPIRB or PLB. Each year the majority of false alerts occur during testing and maintenance.

• Registration is valid for two years; owners need to revalidate every two years.

• Ensure all registration and emergency contact information is up to date. Updated beacon information can decrease rescue response time during distress situations.

• If you realize you have accidentally activated your beacon, call the Coast Guard at 855-406-USCG (8724) with your beacon’s hex ID ready to cancel the false alert. This action helps responders who would otherwise be out looking for you during an actual emergency.

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