Saturday 19 August 2017

False distress signal sends Irish Coast and Rescue 116 helicopter on wild goose chase

Credit: Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard
Credit: Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

An apparent false distress signal sent the Irish Coast Guard and the rescue helicopter on a wild goose chase last night.

An EPIRB alert was activated in the Dublin/Dun Laoghaire area shortly before 8pm yesterday evening.

Credit: Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard
Credit: Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard

This signal alerted the Dun Laoghaire Unit of the Irish Coast Guard who then called in the Rescue 116 to search for the exact position of the signal.

Residents in the area reported seeing the helicopter over Dublin Bay as it attempted to pinpoint the distress location.

"Initially we believed that the signal was coming from the Scotsman Bay area but then it was found to be coming more from the land," a spokesperson from the Irish Coast Guard told 

An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) does exactly what its name suggests - its emits a signal so that search and rescue services can be alerted in the case of an emergency.

A coded message sent on the 406 MHz distress frequency is transmitted through satellite and earth stations to the nearest rescue centre.

"An EPIRB self-activates when it is in water or it can be manually activated," said the spokesperson.

Eventually, the EPIRB alert location was narrowed down to the Spencer Villas area of Dun Laoghaire - and the Coast Guard then took over a ground search.

The team, who happened to be taking part in an annual Operational Readiness Assessment (ORA) at the time, then conducted on door-to-door enquiries at Spencer Villas, Adelaide Road, but were eventually stood down when nothing was discovered.

"The beacon may have been lying in a boat in the back of someone's back garden, which filled up with rainwater and set it off," the Coast Guard spokesperson said.

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