Rescues - 2008

A McMurdo FASTFIND Personal Locator Beacon was used to alert search and rescue authorities when a light aircraft en route to Athens from Popham in the UK made an emergency landing in June. The plane landed in a forested area 15 minutes after take-off from St Etienne in France on the third leg of a flight bound for Aix-Les- Milles in the South of France.

Three experienced pilots were on board the plane. Despite careful weather route planning unexpected bad weather forced them to turn back to St Etienne. However, they were ultimately forced by lack of visibility in a mountainous area to attempt a precautionary landing. The pilot, Mike Vernon was able to bring the plane to a controlled halt on the top of the tree canopy but the subsequent drop to the ground caused substantial damage and injuries amongst the crew, one of whom was in hospital for a month.

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Philippe Comte, a Belgian national, used his McMurdo Precision Category II EPIRB to get himself rescued, when all other options failed. After his boat was wrecked, he was lucky to get ashore, but once landed, there were no signs of life on the deserted island.

Philippe tells his own story: “After waiting for the right pre-frontal winds in Georgetown I decided to head out on November 10th to Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos aboard my 1974 Dufour 34 sloop. The winds were light and I was able to sail around Long Island and close to the Crooked Island passage. As a cold front caught up with me I anchored in the lee of West Plana Cay to wait for the strong NE winds to ease out.

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Rescue services came to the aid of a group of kayakers in rough Scottish waters after the group leader activated his McMurdo FASTFIND PLUS Personal Locator Beacon.

Keith Lawrie, an experienced kayaker, left Portknockie on Scotland’s east coast with a group of three colleagues and his 6-year-old son in gentle seas and with a fair weather forecast. However, some miles off the coast the sea state deteriorated quite rapidly and the group, having already decided to head back to the shore, became overwhelmed by breaking surf on the top of large waves, and one of Keith’s companions was thrown out of his kayak. The group performed a rescue on the overturned member and after a brief recovery the group set off again for the main land only to have the companion rolled again by the increasing swell.

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McMurdo provided the lifesaving personal locator beacon that was activated by a Hampshire, UK woman resulting in her being airlifted to safety in Russia. The distress signal from the McMurdo-manufactured Fastfind MAX G was picked up 3,700 miles away by a Scottish RAF base. The alarm was raised by a research party from Nottingham University after Kimberley Warren, from Sway, Hampshire, fell from a horse and broke her leg. The McMurdo MAX G signal was picked up by the international search and rescue satellite system monitored by RAF Kinloss in Moray.

In a story which is making UK national news headlines, Russian rescue teams were alerted and sent to the remote Kamchatka region. The 406 MHz MAX G triggered by the research party is registered in the UK but can be used anywhere in the world to alert search and rescue authorities. It uses GPS technology which gives very quick and accurate position information once activated.

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The lives of three fishermen have been saved thanks to the McMurdo MOB Guardian man overboard and vessel locater alert system. The system was designed by the RNLI in partnership with McMurdo, one of the world’s leading suppliers of emergency distress beacons. This is the first time that the McMurdo manufactured system has demonstrated its full effectiveness in helping to save lives in a real emergency situation.

The RNLI, which operates the MOB Guardian, received a vessel overdue alert off Sark at 6pm, Tuesday 24 June, in its Operations Room in Poole, Dorset. After verification the alert was transferred to the agencies responsible for coordinating maritime search and rescue – first to Falmouth Coastguard, who then passed it to the Channel Islands Search and Rescue authority. The RNLI St Peter Port lifeboat from Guernsey was then tasked to search for the missing fishing vessel, FV Guyona.

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A yachtsman was rescued on 4th January after activating his McMurdo FastFind Plus GPS Personal Location Beacon off the coast of Africa when his yacht got into difficulties in severe storms. The 1929 gaff rig cutter Mina was extensively damaged by waves leaving the yacht stranded.

22-year-old boat-builder James Baker was sailing from Portimao, in Portugal, to the Caribbean. He activated his McMurdo FastFind Plus PLB at 0053 which alerted the MCA (Maritime Coastguard Agency) and Falmouth Coastguard in Cornwall. The latter then coordinated the rescue operation and contacted the authorities in Morocco, Portugal and Spain. Following alerts to a number of vessels in the vicinity, an Orion aircraft from the Portuguese Navy found the yacht 74 miles west-north-west of Casablanca. Naval staff then directed the German commercial vessel, the MV Wappen Von Bayern, which recovered James around midday.

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