Kyle RNLI false alarm highlights importance of radio beacons

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Kyle of Lochalsh RNLI has reiterated the importance of rescue radio beacons onboard vessels, following a false alarm yesterday (Tuesday February 12).

Kyle lifeboat, Spirit of Fred Olsen, was launched at 6pm, along with Mallaig and Portree lifeboats, a UK Coastguard helicopter and multiple ground-based Coastguard teams, after receiving an emergency signal from an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) on a vessel which had began transmitting in the area between Kyle of Lochalsh and Broadford.

The team immediately began a search of the expected position of the beacon, as other assets made their way to the scene.  As the search progressed, further information was received which seemed to suggest the emergency signal may be coming from the shore, and not out at sea.  Eventually the signal was pinpointed to a malfunctioning beacon on board a vessel which was in a local boat yard for the winter.

Once it was confirmed the emergency signal received was coming from the defective beacon, the search was stood down and Kyle lifeboat returned to station.  The lifeboat was refuelled and made ready for service by 7.45pm.

Speaking of the incident, a Kyle RNLI spokesperson said: ‘Although this was a false alarm, it shows the importance of having an EPIRB on board your vessel, and the difference it can make in an emergency. Within minutes of the signal being received the Coastguard were able to task multiple agencies to the scene to begin searching the area.’