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McMurdo’s New EPIRBs Receive COSPAS-SARSAT Approval

McMurdo Smartfind G5At the London Boat Show in June, British safety equipment manufacturer McMurdo introduced their latest 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs). The new Smartfind E5 and Smartfind Plus G5 (with GPS) provide improved performance and features over the previous generation. These new EPIRBs have now received approval from COSPAS-SARSAT and the first shipments to dealers in the UK are expected this week. FCC approval is still pending for sales in the U.S. and I’ve been told it is expected in about 90 days. However, given that it’s the FCC, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that slip a little.

The Smartfind EPIRBs are GMDSS compliant, have LED flashing locater lights (instead of an old-fashioned strobe) and “comprehensive diagnostic and self test facilities.” The Smartfind Plus G5 offers quicker and more accurate location with an integral GPS receiver. Both are equipped with a 121.5MHz homing transmitter.

The Smartfind Plus gives visual indication of GPS acquisition and has a battery status monitor. Both EPIRBs have a 6 year warranty along with a 5 year battery change interval.

Weight is given as 1.5 lbs (675 g). No dimensions have yet been given, but word we have is that these are similar in size, perhaps a bit smaller, than the current generation of McMurdo EPIRBs before the GPS equipped model had a flotation skirt added after Equipped To Survive Foundation’s 406 MHz GPS Enabled Emergency Beacon Evaluation showed that the original design did not do a very good job of acquiring a GPS location in other than optimum conditions. (McMurdo subsequently upgraded all fielded beacons for free)

No U.S. pricing has been provided, but this is a highly competitive field and we’d expect prices to be in a similar range to current EPIRBs.