Following recent reports in the media regarding the use of Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport wishes to clarify the position regarding the approval and use of EPIRBs in Ireland.
Fishing vessels in Ireland are subject to a comprehensive survey regime covering all safety equipment, including the EPIRB, and a safety certificate is only issued on foot of satisfactory completion of the survey. EPIRBs and other safety equipment are regulated in accordance with the EU Marine Equipment Directive.
The GME EPIRBs, covered in media reporting and the subject of the manufacturer's recent safety alert, hold certification issued by Bureau Veritas, the relevant international certifying authority, confirming compliance with the EU Directive.
The Department as the national maritime authority raised concerns with the manufacturer earlier this year following feedback in relation to vessel surveys that led to the issue of the alert by the company. The manufacturer's alert emphasises the importance of all users testing the equipment at regular intervals in accordance with the alert notice. The Department also wishes to emphasise the importance of regular inspection and testing of all safety equipment in accordance with manufacturers' guidance.
In 2010 the Department made enquires of the manufacturer regarding false alerts and battery failures. The company advised at the time that they had four units returned to them from this country as part of their warranty process. In two cases the equipment had been replaced in line with the warranty. In a third case the warranty was refused because the equipment had been tampered with. The fourth EPIRB was still awaiting examination at the time.
The company has advised the Department that they have sold over 150,000 EPIRBs between 2004 and 2012 with a failure rate of 0.11%.
The Department is currently examining all the issues associated with this matter and will make a detailed report available as quickly as possible.