Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station

Distress beacon sparks RNLI and RAF rescue mission

A DISTRESS beacon from a yacht prompted the launch of Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat and an RAF rescue helicopter from RAF Boulmer on Wednesday evening.

At 21.20 Falmouth Coastguard Operations Centre received an alert from an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) that was registered to a 14m German-registered yacht. The 406MHz beacon was transmitting from a position 74 nautical miles east of the river Tyne and attempts by Humber Coastguard to contact the vessel were unsuccessful.

Fearing that the vessel had sunk, the RNLI lifeboat and RAF helicopter were immediately tasked to make their way to the position of the beacon, their crews expecting to search for wreckage once they reached the scene.

A typical 406MHz EPIRB

The lifeboat with a volunteer crew of six set out at best speed on what would have been almost a three-hour journey but as they passed 20 miles the RAF Sea King helicopter crew reported that they had found the vessel which was safe and in no distress.

The helicopter crew had homed in on the beacon which had apparently become dislodged from its bracket, automatically activating it. They found that the yacht – named Guts ‘n Glory – was one of a number taking part in an ocean-going race and located the registered owner of the beacon by following the line of yachts until they reached it.  After contacting the vessel to ensure all was well the helicopter was stood down and returned to base, with Tynemouth lifeboat being stood down at the same time, returning to station at 23.30 after refuelling.

Lifeboat: 17-20 Spirit of Northumberland

More information about EPIRBS and Personal Locator Beacons can be found here: completeguide.rnli.org/epirbs-and-plbs.html