Magazine article National Defense

Coast Guard Purchases Locator Beacons

Magazine article National Defense

Coast Guard Purchases Locator Beacons

Article excerpt

To enhance crew safety, the Coast Guard recently ordered up to 16,000 personal locator beacons that can be used during land, sea or air emergencies.

The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract --worth up to $3 million--was awarded to the McMurdo Group, of Lanham, Maryland.

McMurdo--a safety and security division of Orolia, a Sophia-Antipolis, France-based positioning, navigation and timing solutions company--will provide die Coast Guard with the FastFind 220 personal locator beacons over the next five years.

"We fully expect that they will reach the ceiling," said Mark Cianciolo, McMurdo's general manager for aerospace, defense and government programs.

The beacons, which are available commercially, are used across a variety of aircraft and ships, he said. While they may not always make headlines, two ships a week are lost at sea. Twenty-four of those large ships sink a year, he said.

In July, a commercial shipping vessel was sinking and under distress in the Bering Sea off the Aleutian Islands. Using McMurdo's beacons, the ship was able to notify search and rescuers and receive help.

"All 46 souls were saved," Cianciolo said. …

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