On Feb. 11th, watchstanders at the Coast Guard District Five command center in Portsmouth, Va., recieved a report of an EPIRB distress signal 126 miles to the southeast of Wilmington, Del. An HC-130 Hercules fixed wing aircraft and a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter were launched from the USCG air base at Elizabeth City. The cutter Hamilton was diverted to the area to join in the search and AMVER ships nearby agreed to assist. When they reached the area, aircrews only spottted a debris field of netting, floats and other materials. There have been no confirmed reports of missing vessels.
Whether this was, in fact, a vessel sinking or ony a false alarm, it once again points out the value of regsitering your EPIRB so the Coast Guard and other SAR authorities have a point of contact to determine whether you really are at sea and in distress or there has been a false alarm. In the case above, had the EPIRB been registered the Coast Guard could have called the contact number in the regsitration and discovered more about the situation from colleagues or family members on shore.
“We take EPIRB notifications very seriously and this combination with debris is an indication of possible distress,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Dempsey, watchstander during the case. “Anyone in the boating or fishing community who has information that can assist the search may call the District Five command center at 757-398-6231.”