United States Coast Guard
Inspections and Compliance Directorate
June 18, 2018
Safety Alert 11 -18
A PFD that’s Unwearable
Makes an Emergency Situation Unbearable!
This safety alert raises awareness of a potentially dangerous circumstance involving Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs). During several inspections involving different vessels, Coast Guard personnel discovered a significant number (>100) of unwearable type 1 PFDs that would have presented a problem for users if needed in an emergency. Owners and operators are reminded that regulations require PFDs onboard vessels to be wearable and in serviceable condition.
Normally, when a wearer dons the type of PFD shown, a person grabs both sides of the vest to pull the sides apart and the waist band strap moves freely through a slit opening (see photographs 1 and 2). The user is then able to easily don the PFD by placing it over the head, passing the strap around the body, clipping the end onto the securing D-ring, and tightening the strap securely.
During recent PFD inspections, inspectors discovered that the securing strap was secured at its bitter end, and was also fused to the side of the PFD by what appeared to be the shell coating or color matching material (see photographs 3 and 4). As a result, a user is unable to separate the halves of the PFD to open the gap and place over the head to wear.
Based on the number of problematic PFDs discovered, the Coast Guard is strongly recommending that owners and operators using this type of PFD inspect each one for this condition. If problematic PFDs are discovered, owners and operators are encouraged to report their findings to the Coast Guard Office of Design and Engineering Standards via email to: TypeApproval@uscg.mil. Please include the name of manufacturer, design number, lot numbers, and quantity of PFDs impacted. Also indicate if the coating had been touched up at any time, and the total number of similar unaffected PFDs onboard.
Note: The Coast Guard is deliberately not indicating the manufacturer’s name until additional details and the scope of the potential problem are fully known.
This Safety Alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational, or material requirements. Developed by USCG Sector New York Inspections Department and
distributed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis. Questions may be sent to HQS-PF-fldr-CG-INV@uscg.mil.
With the opening of scallop seasons fast approaching, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants to remind everyone engaged in this fun outdoor activity to use a divers-down warning device whenever they are snorkeling or scuba diving while searching for these tasty treats.
The divers-down symbol is rectangular or square and red in color with a white diagonal stripe. A divers-down flag displayed on a boat must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches and displayed at the highest point where it can be observed from 360 degrees around the vessel. A buoy may not be used or displayed from a vessel. A divers-down flag or buoy, displayed from the water, must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. A flag must have a wire or other stiffener to hold it open, and a buoy may be three- or four-sided.
All divers must prominently display a divers-down device in the area in which the diving occurs.
“Displaying and understanding what constitutes a proper divers-down symbol are critical,” said Capt. Tom Shipp of FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “These safety devices are meant to alert boaters to the presence of people under the water’s surface and to give them plenty of room.”
All vessels must make reasonable effort to stay at least 100 feet away from a divers-down device within a river, inlet or channel. In open waters, vessels must make reasonable effort to stay 300 feet away. For safety, divers should stay within those same distances of their displayed device. A vessel that approaches closer must be fully off plane and at idle speed.
“Divers share the responsibility of boating safety with the boat operators,” Shipp said. “Diving without the divers-down symbol properly displayed or using it for reasons other than to inform others of the presence of divers is unlawful.”
The divers-down device should only be displayed when divers are in the water. When divers or snorkelers exit the water, it must be taken down.
FWC photo by Tim Donovan.
Hammer USCG Approved for Small Rafts
The Hammar H20 Small Raft model (HR-0200) is now USCG approved.
|The H20 Small Raft model (green label) is used for USCG approved liferafts ＜ 6 persons and all recreational rafts up to 12 persons. The weak link system has a breaking strength of 1,2 +- 0,4kN and therefor suitable for small rafts. The Hammar H20’s needs no annual service, maintenance or spare parts, but must be replaced after 2 years of use on a boat.
USCG approval no 160.062/14/10.https://www.datrex.com/shop/browse-products/hammar-h20-for-small-rafts-ha200h/
When the fishing was proving unproductive he decided to move to a new site, but the engine on his 20 foot aluminium V-Hull boat generated nothing more than a clatter and refused to run. Without mobile phone signal and without other means to call for help Bernucho extended the antenna on his PLB1 and activated it.
Personal Locator Beacons send out an internationally recognised signal to the Cospas Sarsat satellite system. Each beacon is individual coded and Bernucho had made sure his was registered with NOAA. Within 36minutes of activation, a US Coastguard helicopter was nearby, following its normal search pattern. Bernucho set off a flare to indicate his exact position. Within minutes the helicopter was overhead and dropped a radio down to him on a line.
Using the contact details provided to NOAA when he registered his PLB, NOAA also contacted his wife and kept her fully informed of the situation and confirming that he was OK.
Using the radio, Bernucho was able to call up a tow back to port, grateful for the effectiveness of his Ocean Signal PLB1 and the efficiency of the Coastguard and NOAA. Bernucho said after his adventure with the PLB1, “I asked the Coastguard if there was anything I could do. And the simply said ‘Spread the Word’”
The US Coast Guard website described PLBs as “lightweight, compact and easy to use, can instantly summon help and provide rescuers with precise location information”
OCEAN SIGNAL – METSTRADE: SURVIVORS ACTIVATE OCEAN SIGNAL EPIRB IN DRAMATIC BISCAY RESCUE FROM SINKING YACHT
METSTRADE, 14th to 16th November, Stand 03.125
‘Within 25 minutes of the EPIRB being set off, we were in the airbase taking a shower’ – sailor Edward Harwood
UK sailor Edward Harwood says his Ocean Signal SafeSea 100G EPIRB ‘proved worth its weight in gold’ after he and his crew were dramatically rescued from their sinking yacht, Mistral, off the Costa Del Morte, Northern Spain.
On passage back to the UK, sailing from Villa Nova de Arousa to France on-board the 1977 Dehler Optima 92, the sailors found themselves in a life-threatening situation after discovering the boat was taking on water near Biscay’s ‘Coast of Death’ following rough weather and Force 7 wind at the start of their voyage.
They immediately located the grab bag, prepared the life raft and activated the Ocean Signal EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) as efforts to pump the vessel out to save her proved fruitless. With the boat now stationary and low down by the bow, they also sent out a Mayday on the handheld VHF but there was no response.
Just minutes after abandoning the yacht and climbing into the life raft, the sailors had received a radio message and were communicating with the rescue authorities who informed them they had seen the EPIRB alert and had been contacted by the UK coastguard.
Edward said: “There is no doubt it was the EPIRB that did the trick. The flooded boat meant that putting out a Mayday using the VHF did not work. Within 7 minutes, we were receiving calls from family in the UK asking if we were okay. They had been contacted by the UK Coastguard and relayed to Vigo in Spain. In less than 10 minutes there was a rescue helicopter, Salvamento Marítimo helicopter PESCA 1 of Vigo air base, and fast boat on the scene. We were lifted to safety and I saw the boat up ended and going down. Within 25 minutes of the EPIRB being set off, we were in the airbase taking a shower and being given hot drinks.”
Used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency at sea, the SafeSea E100G EPIRB has exceptional operational battery life with enough capacity to operate the EPIRB continuously, typically for four whole days, even using the E100G with GPS fix. It features intuitive operating controls and is very easy to use, even in a stressful environment. The E100G is fitted with a 50-channel, integral GPS which improves location accuracy and significantly reduces the time taken for the position to be transmitted to the rescue authorities. Certified for use on vessels registered in many countries across the world, the SafeSea E100G is a Cospas–Sarsat EPIRB operating in the 406MHz satellite band.
Edward added: “The Ocean Signal EPIRB is a truly outstanding product. It is easy to use in an emergency situation, fast and faultlessly reliable, plus it is by far the toughest and best quality. I will use one all my sailing life. I can think of no better and more necessary bit of safety equipment to have aboard.
“Over the past 10 years, we have always had an EPIRB on board and would not sail offshore without one. When the time came to replace it, the obvious choice was the Ocean Signal with the GPS built in. This was not only because of the fantastically practical battery arrangement, but also because the GPS feature made sense. If you are in trouble, you want to be located fast and it proved to be worth its weight in gold.”
James Hewitt, Sales and Marketing Manager, Ocean Signal, said: “It is never good to hear that a beacon has had to be activated, however it is great to hear that Edward and his crew are safe as a result of having an Ocean Signal EPIRB on board. It is really important that all vessels are equipped with an EPIRB device with GPS, such as the Ocean Signal E100G involved in this rescue, as it transmits an accurate location to the rescue authorities very quickly.”