Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is an integral part of Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). These beacons when operated will send distress signals to Rescue Coordination Centers (RCC) via polar orbiting COSPAS-SARSAT Satellites. EPIRB is a mandatory requirement as per SOLAS regulations.

Overview diagram of EPIRB/COSPAS-SARSAT commun...
Overview diagram of EPIRB/COSPAS-SARSAT communication system (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fitted on board a vessel the beacon will automatically release if the vessel sinks and start sending out signals to satellites. Automatic activation is achieved by a hydrostatic release unit. EPIRB can also be manually activated

These beacons are powered by lithium primary batteries. When transported as cargo beacon is classified as Dangerous Goods UN 3091, class 9 LITHIUM METAL BATTERIES CONTAINED IN EQUIPMENT. EPIRBS fitted on board vessels does not come under the purview of IMDG Code

EPIRB fitted on board a vessel - Photo by Sunil Unnikrishnan

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