Shortage of EPIRBS could cause concern for Australian Boaters

Boaters warned of EPIRB shortage

Boaters have again been warned not to delay switching over to the new 406
MHz digital distress beacons amid reports of a global shortage of the new
Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi said the worldwide switch from
121.5MHz analogue beacons to the more accurate digital model is well
underway ahead of the February 1 deadline.
“However, global demand for the new digital beacons has put pressure on
NSW and Australian supplies and there are significant backlogs of orders for
some models,” Mr Tripodi said.  
From February 1, signals from 121.5MHz emergency position indication radio
beacons (EPIRB) will no longer be monitored under an international
“This means Australian rescue services will be unable to detect an analogue
distress beacon via satellite,” Mr Tripodi said.
“Maritime authorities have been advising boaters to switch to a 406 EPIRB
since July last year, but an international shortage of the new equipment has
delayed its uptake around Australia.
“If a particular model of the 406 MHz is unavailable, boaters should consider
alternative brands, though we recognise in some cases, EPIRBs ordered
months ago have still not been received from suppliers.”
Mr Tripodi said because of the shortages and delays, skippers found not
carrying a 406 EPIRB will be given a warning rather than a fine, providing
they can prove a digital distress beacon has been ordered.
Boaters will also have to show:
•  the vessel is a recreational craft;
•  all other required safety equipment is present and functional;
•  the vessel is operating within mobile telephone range; and  
•  the vessel is less than 2 nautical miles from shore.
Mr Tripodi said all commercial operators must meet the requirement to carry
a 406MHz EPIRB from February 1.