At 10:15 Falmouth Coastguard Operations Centre, the UK centre for receiving distress beacon alerts, received a COSPAS-SARSAT alert from an unregistered 406Mhz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) which was transmitting close to the river Tyne north of Howdon. The lack of registration meant that there were no contact details for Coastguards to attempt to contact a vessel.
Falmouth CGOC immediately passed the emergency to Humber Coastguard who requested the launch of Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat to search for any possible vessel in distress.
The lifeboat travelled three miles upriver to the Morston Quay area of Howdon and attempted to pinpoint the EPIRB’s emergency signal using the Radio Direction Finding (RDF) equipment. The signal appeared to be coming from land north of the river but a comprehensive search of the river found no vessel in any difficulty.
Coastguards then directed the lifeboat to proceed to Whitley Bay in an attempt to triangulate the signal but it was too weak to be received by the RDF.
Satisfied that the alert was an accidental activation on land and there was no-one in distress, Humber Coastguard stood the lifeboat down at 11:34 which then returned to station.
Lifeboat: 17-20 Spirit of Northumberland