Can you imagine our surprise today as we were testing an ALERT2 Receiver bound for the R/V Thomas G. Thompson (currently in midlife overhaul) when we saw the R/V Thomas G. Thompson from our building. The Thompson is currently undergoing sea trials in Puget Sound. It was a great feeling knowing the product we were testing for use as their Man-Overboard Alarm System was just a mile from our facilities.
Safety is important on any boat, even more so when scientists and inexperienced students are working on deck. The School of Oceanography at the University of Washington protects those on board its two research vessels with Emerald Marine Products’ ALERT Man-Overboard (MOB) Alarm Systems™. If someone should fall overboard, an alarm instantly sounds, providing critical extra time for a successful recovery in the cold Pacific Northwest waters and points beyond.
The university purchased ALERT2 systems for its 274′ R/V Thomas G. Thompson and 66′ R/V Clifford A. Barnes. Each is equipped with an ALERT2 Receiver, 18″ whip antenna, seven Transmitters with Spray Tight Pouches and a Man-Overboard Portable Direction Finder to pinpoint the victim in darkness or heavy seas.
Especially on the smaller Clifford A. Barnes, where people are often alone on deck, everyone wears a work vest and has access to a small and lightweight ALERT2 Transmitter. If the unit is immersed in water, it triggers the receiver to activate a piercing alarm in the wheelhouse. Unlike MOB systems that rely on satellites, like AIS, the ALERT2 is instantaneous.
There’s a need for immediacy. At even a mere 3 kts, an MOB will be 100′ astern in just 20 seconds. The sooner crew can launch a locally-managed rescue operation, the greater the success will be.
“We chose the ALERT system because of its simplicity and affordability—it’s a good value,” said Capt. Douglas Russell, manager of marine operations. “And, we received great customer care during the purchase process.” Package prices start as low as $1,068.
Founded in 1930, the Seattle-based School of Oceanography at the University of Washington provides its students with the academic tools and resources to study the marine environment, and its interaction with the earth and atmosphere. It offers baccalaureate and graduate degree programs. Its website is www.ocean.washington.edu.
|Event||ALERT2 Man-Overboard Alarm System||AIS|
|Fall Overboard (event)||Upon immersion the MOB wonders what the heck happened.||Upon immersion the MOB wonders what the heck happened.|
|MOB comes up for air (+10 sec.)||Luckily MOB is coherent and now above the waves. MOB looking at surroundings trying to get barrings. At this point the ALERT2 is already transmitting to ALERT2 Receiver.||Luckily MOB is alert and now above the waves. MOB looking at surroundings trying to get barrings. Hopefully not panicked, MOB needs to remember how to activate AIS.|
|What is happening on vessel? (+20 sec.)||ALERT2 Receiver howls and crew take action to search for MOB. If the boat has ALERT2 Receiver wired for engine kill, the boat has stopped moving.||If MOB is successful, AIS is turned on. If first attempt fails, other manual activation may be required. Once activated AIS searches for GPS coordinates.|
|Search & Rescue (+30 sec.)||Crew on vessel are looking for a visual of MOB. Once sighted, a crew member will lock-on to MOB as others begin rescue.||Once GPS coordinates are located, the transmission to AIS-enabled receiver receives broadcast. Furthermore, the AIS icon may appear on the chart plotter as a vessel, not a MOB – so crew may still not be aware of person overboard.|
|1 minute has passed||Vessel traveling 6 knots has separated 600 feet from MOB! ALERT2 MOB has either been sighted or ALERT2 Portable Direction Finder is able to home in on signal.||Because of lag-time, MOB will probably no longer be in sight. All rescue will be dependent on following GPS coordinates.|
|3 minutes have passed||With transmission of alarm automatic, evasive action has commenced and rescue is well on way.||In reality rescue is probably just beginning.|
There are a dozen products on the market that are identified as fall-overboard locator beacons. Our product, the ALERT2 Man-Overboard Alarm System™ has two functions that differentiate from the other fall-overboard locator beacons on the market.
For a vessel moving 6 knots, a person who has fallen overboard will drift 100 feet in 10 seconds, 600 feet in 60 seconds. In between that 10 and 60 seconds, even on a clear day, they are no longer visible to the crew on the boat they just fell off of. When time is of the essence, ALERT2 is far superior to the other fall-overboard locator beacons.
As the United States Coast Guard invites people involved in the Commercial Fishing Industry to learn about the Alternative Safety Compliance Program (ASCP), Emerald Marine Products suggests taking the proposed safety solution a little further to really enhance the potential for saving a life at sea.
- 30% of all marine fatalities on United States Coastal Waters were from a fall overboard*
- #1 reason for a fall overboard was trip/slip, #2 reason was lost balance, and #3 is unknown*
- Most fatalities could have been prevented if two actions occurred: 1. victim wore a Personal Flotation Device and 2. Crew were aware the victim fell overboard
In 2014 there were four crew fatalities, which is the lowest number on record. Three of the four were a result of crew-members falling into the water. In the past 20 years, 72 fatalities have been a result of falling into water. Emerald Marine Products is glad to see that the number has been reduced over the years, thanks to better prevention and heightened awareness. On average, three fatalities a year occur due to falling in water. In the past eight years, an average of 15 fall into water accidents occur each year, of which six tend to be serious (if not fatal) occurrences.
The ruling, “Vessel Requirements for Notices of Arrival and Departure and Automatic Identification System” becomes effective March 2. However, you have until March 1, 2016 to install the AIS.
AIS or Automatic Identification System is now required on all vessels 65 feet or longer. Primarily for the benefit of being able to identify boats in the area, AIS has also been touted as a life-saving technology with fall-overboard (FOB) awareness and location of person who fell overboard using GPS technology embedded in the AIS device. However, the truth is that AIS is not the best solution for FOB awareness or for that matter, the location of the person who fell overboard.
When describing the benefits of the ALERT2 Man-Overboard Alarm System, many people see it as an insurance policy in keeping you safe and alive. The truth is, ALERT2 is not an insurance policy, it’s a device that may actually help you NOT use your insurance. In addition, ALERT2 can actually save you money on your insurance.