This is a review of what may have failed to activate an Ocean Signal MOB AIS/DSC device, resulting in the tragic loss of BRITT TAYLOR, 52, on passage from Puerto Rico to Annapolis, Maryland.
The captain of the S/V SMALL WORLD IV, TONY NEWLING WARD, activated his EPIRB when he awakened at 0230 hrs Eastern Time to relieve his mate, BRITT TAYLOR, W/F, Age 52 who went overboard sometime between 2130 hrs 01 June 21 and 0230 hrs. She is presumed to have on a type V inflatable vest with an automatically deployed activation and the Ocean Signal personal AIS turns on automatically.
The first thing you need to know about this device is it is NOT WATER ACTIVATED. It is activated by pulling a ribbon which manually activates a slide switch. The ribbon is meant to go around one of the air pockets on your water activated Type 5 PFD, so that when the air bladder inflates, it pulls the ribbon, activating the Ocean Signal device.
As far as we know, there are no water activated PLB’s on the market today. A manually activated PLB will not help an unconscious person. We are now researching this issue.
The second thing you should know, and this is super critical, is the device MUST BE PROGRAMMED using a laptop computer to enter the MMSI number of the VHF radio on the boat the device will be used on. Without programming the MMSI number into the Ocean Signal device, it WILL NOT TRANSMIT A DSC ALARM when activated.
In theory, the person going into the water is wearing a water activated Type 5 PFD with the Ocean Signal MOB device properly attached and programmed with the vessel’s MMSI number. Upon inflation of the PFD, the Ocean Signal MOB will activate, sending a DSC alarm to the VHF radio on the boat, sounding an extremely loud alarm. The volume of the alarm is not dependent on the volume set on the radio.
Boatwatch.org has not contacted any of the sailors involved with this tragic incident. We are not investigating this incident. We are merely pointing out what MAY have gone wrong when BRITT TAYLOR went overboard during the early hours of June 1st, 2021, on passage between Puerto Rico and Annapolis, Maryland.
Boatwatch.org highly encourages all sailors who use MOB devices to have a full understanding of how they work, and what needs to be done in order to make them work on your passage.Take the time to read the manufactures instructions and fully understand and test the device periodically to make sure it is operational.