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Dublin: 18 °C Monday 28 July, 2014

Transport Dept examines issues with emergency marine beacons

Minister Varadkar has been called on to clarify how long his department has known about the issues for.

Image: Fishing trawler via Shutterstock

THE DEPARTMENT OF Transport is to make a detailed report on issues with emergency marine beacons used on some Irish fishing vessels.

It said in relation to the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) that fishing vessels in Ireland are subject to a comprehensive survey regime covering all safety equipment, including the EPIRB.

These devices send out an emergency signal when a boat is submerged in water or capsizes.

A recent manufacturer’s safety alert was issued in relation to certain GME EPIRBs. These particular EPIRBs hold certification issued by Bureau Veritas, the international certifying authority, which means they comply with the EU Directive.

The Department said it had already 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.

It echoed the fact the manufacturer’s alert “emphasises the importance of all users testing the equipment at regular intervals in accordance with the alert notice”.

In 2010, the Transport Department inquired with the manufacturer about false alerts and battery failures for these devices. “The company advised at the time that they had four units returned to them from this country as part of their warranty process,” it said.

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 sold over 150,000 EPIRBs between 2004 and 2012, with a failure rate of 0.11 per cent.

The Department said it is “currently examining all the issues associated with this matter and will make a detailed report available as quickly as possible”.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Timmy Dooley TD, has called on Minister Leo Varadkar to clarify when exactly his Department became aware of problems relating to some emergency beacons.

Read: Report into fishing tragedy finds fault with condition of vessel, planning of trip>

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