EPIRB battery replacement

I would like to correct an assertion about cross-marketed safety products that was made in a recent article (Satellite signaling Issue 129 Ocean Voyager 2003). While in the past there were many cross-marketed products carrying both the Northern Airborne Technology and ACR brands (both companies being owned by the same parent company), that situation is beginning to change.

In the specific domain of EPIRBs, NAT currently offers the Satfind 406 Pro, which is not available in any version from ACR. The Satfind 406 Pro is unique in that it is the only 406-MHz EPIRB that can have its battery replaced by its owner.

The lithium batteries mandated for use in 406 EPIRBs are now rated as “hazardous cargo.” Given this status, homeland defense initiatives make shipments of an EPIRB to a dealer and then back to the owner — a much more tedious process, one fraught with complications, possible delays and uncertainties.

Satfind 406 Pro’s owner battery-replacement capability means that a spare battery can be shipped from a dealer (leaving the paperwork to the dealer) to an EPIRB owner. The owner then can store the battery until the EPIRB’s test feature indicates the need for battery replacement. So the EPIRB never needs to leave the vessel; and the owner never need set sail without this important safety device onboard.

George Lariviere is general manager of search-and-rescue products at Northern Airborne Technology, based in Kelowna, British Columbia.

By Ocean Navigator