The National Transportation Safety Board just issued a safety alert urging boat owners to give everyone on board a personal locator device to improve their chances of being rescued in an emergency.
PLBs or satellite emergency notification devices can pinpoint your location in an emergency, so that others will know where to find you and they can coordinate rescue efforts. The NTSB says that current PLBs are accurate within about 300 feet and that they almost immediate notify search-and-rescue organizations when they’re activated.
The NTSB said that the use of PLBs in the sinking of the U.S. cargo ship El Faro on 2015 could have resulted in better initial rescue efforts if the crew had been wearing PLBs. All 33 crew on board were killed in the accident. After its investigation, the NTSB urged the Coast Guard to require all personnel working on vessels in coastal, Great Lakes and ocean territories to be equipped with a PLB.
It made the same recommendation after the sinking of the Scandies Rose in 2019 in the Bering Sea when five people died; the loss of the Emmy Rose, in 2020 off Massachusetts, with four, and the capsizing of the liftboat Seacor Power in the Gulf of Mexico in 2021 when 13 people died. The NTSB said, “Had PLBs been available to the Seacor Power’s crew when the crewmembers abandoned the vessel, search and rescue crews would have had continuously updated and correct coordinates of individual survivor’s locations. As a result, it is likely they would have been rescued earlier.”
Read the NTSB’s safety alert here: https://www.ntsb.gov/Advocacy/safety-alerts/Documents/SA-088.pdf