New Diver Search and Locate System onboard Andromeda
Last week the SEA MARSHALL diver search and locate security system was installed onboard Andromeda and now both our vessels are equipped with this essential diver security system. It can happen to any scuba diver that upon surfacing, they do not see their boat or they find themselves drifted hundreds of metres from the reefs or from their group. In bad visibility, with big waves in rough seas, not much good do bouys, mirrors or sound alarms.
This system has worked very well onboard Cassiopeia and the divers enthusiastically have been taking along their transmitters for the dives, so it has become a must for Andromeda as well. The SEA MARSHALL PLB 8 is a small transmitter, not bigger than a digital camera and it can be easily placed in the BCD’s pocket or on the tank.
Surfacing scuba divers, after realising that they had gotten far from the live aboard, activate the system. The receiver on the bridge registers the signal and alerts the crew onboard. The receiver shows the direction and the signal strength from which the position of the diver can be calculated. Given ideal conditions, conservative dive plans, appropriate experience and attention, drifting can be avoided but it does not hurt to be ready for possible emergencies and to always have a plan “B”.
We have been setting up our scuba divers onboard Cassiopeia with this equipment which provides them with additional safety since 2008. This safety device saves the lives of drift-away divers worldwide.
The way the device works is that the scuba diver, after reaching the water surface and noticing that he/she is dangerously far from the diving boat / liveaboard, activates the device that is attached to the scuba diver’s tank or BCD. The receiver, located on the bridge of the diving liveaboard, registers the scuba diver’s signal through an outer antenna and alerts the crew onboard. The location and strength of the signal is displayed on the receiver, providing information on the distance and location of the scuba diver from the liveaboard.
It can be a life-saving solution in bad visibility, in heavy surfs, at night or in choppy waters.
The Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons send radio signals at 406 Mhz on a specified frequency which can be received by satellites, airplanes and rescue units. The advantage of a digital signal is that the position of the emergency can be detected virtually anywhere in the world.
This receiver is designed mainly for vessels, so due to its size, it is not possible for scuba divers to take it with them. But there is a practical solution to this – a 121.5Mhz personal position indicator. It operates within a smaller range but the 2-5.5km distance is suitable for drift-away scuba divers.