Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from Amver

Amver wishes all of our participants, supporters, survivors, and search and rescue partners a safe and happy holiday and prosperous new year.

Wishing fair winds and following seas...

The Amver staff

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery

The 2008 International Maritime Organization Award for Exceptional Bravery At Sea has been presented to a Brazilian seafarer for his heroic actions saving crew members from an explosive fire on a ship, the IMO reported December 1st.

gCaptain also reported the story and highlights the recipients of the IMO letters of commendation. Among those recipients were six crew members of the Amver participating M/V Horizon Falcon. The Horizon Falcon led a dramatic rescue operation during Typhoon Man Yi ultimately assisting in the rescue of 13 crew of the sunken Chinese vessel Hai Tong 7.

Additionally, Aviation Survival Technician 2nd Class Lawrence Nettles, United States Coast Guard HH-65 Helicopter rescue swimmer, received an IMO letter of commendation for his actions in saving the unconscious master of the grounded fishing vessel Alegria under adverse sea conditions.

Amver salutes Mr. Rodolpho Fonseca da Silva Rigueira of the drill ship Noble Roger Eason, this years recipient of the IMO award, and all of those recognized for their commitment to safety at sea.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Kite Boat Rescue Update

Here are some photos from the recent rescue of a woman attempting to kite surf across the Pacific. Our thank to the crew of the Maersk Mytilini for making the rescue and sending the photos. All photos courtesy of the Maersk Mytilini.




We hope to have some better resolution photos and some video shot by the crew as soon as they can get it sent to us.

In the meantime, Ms. Quereme is a guest onboard the Maersk Mytilini until they pull into Panama on December 13th.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Amver Ship Diverted To Rescue French Kite Surfer Over 1,000 Miles Southeast Of Hawaii

French kite surfer Anne Quemere, adrift and dangerously low on supplies, has decided to abandon ship 1,770 miles southeast of Hawaii. The Maersk Mytilini, an Amver participating container ship, has been diverted to rescue her.

The French adventurer departed San Francisco in a 19 foot kite sailing boat, the Adrien, on Nov. 4 attempting to sail to Tahiti when her sail was damaged and she drifted into an area of the Pacific Ocean with little wind known as the Doldrums. After trying to navigate back into good winds for almost a week Quemere notified French rescue authorities of her situation.

French rescue authorities, recognizing her remote location, enlisted the help of the United States Coast Guard. The United States Coast Guard Fourteenth District Command Center quickly queried the Amver system for participating vessels near the distress location and diverted the Panamanian flagged container ship.

The Maersk Mytilini, managed by the Danaos Corporation of Piraeus, Greece, was advised of the complexity of the situation and is sailing at top speed to rescue the French woman. They are expected to arrive on scene at 8 p.m. EST Dec. 10th.

A Television Can't Save Your Life; A 406 MHz EPIRB or ELT Can!

Here is a guest post courtesy of Captain David McBride, United States Coast Guard Chief of Search and Rescue.

Most of you probably already know that starting in February 2009, over-the-air television broadcasts will be going digital in the United States. This means that if you want to continue to receive free television reception, you must have a newer TV that has a digital tuner or you need to get a digital-to-analog converter box.

But, did you know that there is a critical piece of life-saving equipment that will also be affected with a change from analog to digital transmissions?

If you own or use an emergency distress beacon on a boat or on a plane, you should know that starting on February 1, 2009, the older beacons that transmit only an analog signal (121.5 or 243 MHz) will no longer be “heard” by search and rescue satellites. Just like checking your TV, you need to ensure that your distress beacon is capable of transmitting a digital signal (406 MHz) in order for it to be recognized.

There are three types of emergency distress beacons: EPIRBs (Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacons) for use in the maritime community, ELTs (Emergency Locator Transmitters) found on aircraft and PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) for individual use. Although PLBs have always been manufactured to transmit to satellites on the 406 MHz frequency, older models of EPIRBs and ELTs were made to transmit to satellites on the 121.5 and 243 MHz frequencies. It should be noted that all 406 MHz beacons in the U.S. also contain a low powered homing signal that transmits on 121.5 MHz. This signal doesn’t reach the satellites, but it allows search and rescue teams to home-in on the beacon once in close range.

The decision to stop satellite processing of the 121.5 and 243 MHz frequency bands was made by the International Cospas-Sarsat Program with guidance from the United Nations. 406 MHz distress beacons have been used successfully for over 15 years now and they have proven to be more powerful, more accurate, and they are verifiable. Because of the digital nature of 406 MHz beacons, every beacon in the world has a unique ID encoded in its signal. As long as the beacon is registered (which is required by U.S. law), search and rescue forces can quickly confirm that the distress is real and have access to important information about the beacon owner.

When a person in distress activates an EPIRB, ELT or PLB (or an EPIRB automatically activates when a vessel sinks or an ELT automatically activates when an aircraft crashes), a signal is transmitted to search and rescue satellites. This “alert” is then relayed to a network of ground stations on Earth. If the signal originates in the U.S. the alert is sent to the U.S. Mission Control Center (USMCC) operated by NOAA. The USMCC processes the alert then distributes it to a U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center depending on if the location is in a maritime or inland environment. In the past five years (2003-2007), 406 MHz beacons have directly contributed to the saving of 1,224 lives in the U.S. alone.

Mariners should know that 121.5 MHz EPIRBs became prohibited for use in January 2007.

Aircraft owners and operators should be aware that, although 121.5 or 243 MHz ELTs still meet FAA carriage requirements, the distress signal will not be automatically sent to search and rescue personnel. The only way an alert will be realized is if a radio in close proximity to the beacon is tuned to the 121.5 or 243 MHz frequency and the operator passes the alert information to proper authorities. Even if this takes place, without the amplifying information provided by 406 MHz beacons, the results of a successful search are greatly diminished. That being said, pilots and other aviation interests should increase their attention to monitoring the 121.5 MHz frequency any time they have the chance to do so.

If you decide to replace an old 121.5 MHz EPIRB or ELT, please make sure you disable it by removing and properly disposing of the batteries. Also, remember to register your 406 MHz beacon in the United States 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database System. Registration is free, easy to do and mandatory. You can include and update important information anytime such as emergency contact numbers, a description of your boat or aircraft, a person’s medical condition, or even a simplified float or flight plan—anything to make it easier for us to find you!

All beacon owners and users should check their beacons (just like those TV sets) before the switch to digital takes place in February 2009. Your life may well depend on it!

This information is provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Search and Rescue.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Amver; Now More Than Ever

The recent announcement by United States Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen regarding our High Endurance Cutter sustainability, coupled with the recent report of a passenger vessel grounding in Antarctica, where a vessel in the vicinity helped the distressed ship, underscores the continued need for, and use of, the Amver system.

Amver remains a force multiplier, immediately enhancing rescue authorities ability to respond to maritime emergencies in their areas of responsibility. On December 4 there were 3,543 vessels on the Amver plot available to divert and assist around the world. Imagine, over 3,000 additional life saving resources sailing the world's oceans.

So far this year 194 lives have been saved by Amver participating ships. International rescue coordination centers continue to utilize the online Amver surface picture request form to get the information necessary to divert vessels in their own search and rescue regions. In fact, the first people saved by the enhanced Amver surface picture request happened to be a couple that own a small cafe down the road from MRCC Falmouth; the same coordination center that requested in information!

Amver's benefits reach beyond the obvious lives saved. The operating costs of United States Coast Guard surface and air assets commonly used in blue water search and rescue missions exceed $10,000 an hour. Imagine a case well off the Atlantic or Pacific coasts lasting over 10 hours. By maximizing the use of Amver participants, in lieu of United States Coast Guard assets, the savings can quickly exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Multiply the savings by the 159 Amver cases this year and Amver becomes a significant cost saver allowing limited Coast Guard resources to focus on other missions.

While pundits may question the continued relevance of Amver as new vessel tracking technologies emerge, Amver remains ready to provide immediate search and rescue data. There are currently no plans to discontinue the Amver system in light of these new technologies. Commercial ships, recognizing the importance of Amver, continue to enroll in Amver at a rate of over 100 per month.

The United States Coast Guard, and its sister services around the world, will continue to face the challenge of having limited resources to manage many missions. Continuing to use the Amver system will help lighten the load ensuring no call for help goes unanswered.

2008 Safety at Sea Awards

Earlier this year Lloyd's Register Fairplay hosted the annual Safety at Sea International Awards in conjunction with Safety at Sea and Marine Electronics Exhibition and Conference in Brighton, United Kingdom.

Safety at Sea Magazine has long supported the Amver award and 2008 was no different. This year the Motor Vessel Prabhu Yuvika was the recipient of the Safety at Sea International Amver Award.

Mr. Benjamin Strong, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, received the award on behalf of the master and crew of the Prabhu Yuvika from Mr. Peter Cardy, Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Maritime and Coast Guard Agency, during the awards dinner.

The Amver participating ship Prabhu Yuvika rescued 11 crew members of the bulk carrier Unicorn Ace which sank in the South China Sea. The Unicorn Ace was carrying lumber products from Malaysia to Taiwan when it encountered bad weather.

The Prabhu Yuvika, an Indian flagged bulk carrier, was diverted at the request of the Hong Kong maritime rescue coordination center. Upon arriving on the scene they discovered a life raft from the sunken vessel and immediately rescued the 11 crew members.

Captain Gurvinder Singh, following instructions from rescue aircraft on scene, continued to carry out search and rescue operations until released by the Hong Kong rescue coordination center, he stated in a message to the United States Coast Guard Amver center. Captain Singh poses (center photo) with surivors of the sunken Unicorn Ace.

The Prahuh Yuvika sailed to Manila where the Chinese survivors were met by Philippine Coast Guard authorities.