Lessons learned from accidental triggering of Search and Rescue Transponder

Saturday morning 5 December, just before 0400, the night shift Watch Officer at Marine Rescue Port Stephens was alerted through some of our specialised equipment that a SART had been activated east of Port Stephens. A SART is a Search and Rescue Transponder and is a lifesaving device which is often carried by sailors to assist in finding them should they go overboard.
Immediately, the Watch Officer noted the location details etc. and advised the Marine Area Command of the Water Police who are responsible for all Search and Rescue in NSW. A crew was called for our Rescue Vessels Port Stephens 30 and 31 to assist this SOLAS situation. Our policy is to immediately activate crews rather than wait and see if they are needed. We can always stand down.
Our Watch Officer then transmitted a message to all ships in the area of the situation and requested assistance from any boat able to help. It didn’t take long before advice was received from yachts in the area racing in the Cabbage Tree Island Race that the activation of the SART was accidental.
Our crew, who were out of bed for less than 10 minutes and either at or making their way to our dock, and other emergency activities stood down.
This situation was a good test for our procedures and they worked well. If the situation had been a true emergency, the response by all involved was excellent.
We were pleased that nobody’s life was at risk – this was a no blame situation with a good outcome.
– Marine Rescue Port Stephens


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