Ship & Boat International: eNews January/February 2020
Orolia has launched its FastFind ReturnLink personal locator beacon (PLB), a new breed of beacon featuring the new Galileo satellite network-enabled Return Link Service (RLS), previously described by Orolia as a potential game-changer for marine search and rescue (SAR) operations (see Ship & Boat International July/August 2017, pages 32-34).
Scheduled to become fully operational in Q1 this year, the RLS is intended to provide a major confidence boost to man overboard (MOB) casualties. When the casualty enters the water, the FastFind ReturnLink sends his/her unique ID and GNSS location to the global Cospas Sarsat SAR satellite network. Previously, this was an ‘invisible’ process, with the distress alert ‘presumed’ to have been sent – a factor that may not be obvious when trying to keep one’s head above water in freezing cold, pitch-black conditions.
Now, via RLS, a ‘reply’ can be transmitted to the casualty’s device, activating a blue light to confirm that the alert has been received and that SAR professionals are making their way to the location.“The psychological impact of knowing that help is on the way cannot be underestimated,” comments Chris Loizou, Orolia vice president, maritime. “This PLB will provide invaluable peace of mind for those in distress.”
The FastFind Returnlink has both Galileo and GPS GNSS receivers. The beacon is waterproofed down to 10m, has a five-year battery life and comes with a belt-attachable buoyancy pouch. Alternatively, clip attachments mean it can be affixed to the casualty’s lifejacket oral tube.