Did think of putting this in the electronics section, but implications are a bit wider. (JK feel free to move if you disagree!).
This applies in the US, but as their actions normally follow over here a few years later....
BOATERS MUST NOT OPERATE 121.5/243 MHZ EPIRBs AFTER 31 DECEMBER 2006
WASHINGTON - The Coast Guard reminds all boaters that beginning January 1,
2007, both 121.5 and 243 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons
(EPIRBs) are prohibited from use in both commercial and recreational watercraft.
Boaters wishing to have an emergency rescue beacon aboard their vessel must
have a digital 406 MHz model.
The January 1, 2007, date to stop using 121.5 MHz EPIRBs is in preparation
for February 1, 2009, when satellite processing of distress signals from all
121.5/243 MHz beacons will terminate. Following this termination date, only
the 406 MHz beacons will be detected by the International Cospas-Sarsat
Satellite System which provides distress alert and location data for search and
rescue operations around the world.
The regulation applies to all Class A, B, and S 121.5/243 MHz EPIRBs. It
does not affect 121.5/243 MHz man overboard devices which are designed to work
directly with a base alerting unit only and not with the satellite system.
This change, in large part, was brought about by the unreliability of the
121.5/243 MHz beacons in an emergency situation. Data reveals that with a
121.5 MHz beacon, only one alert out of every 50 is a genuine distress situation.
This has a significant effect on expending the limited resources of search
and rescue personnel and platforms. With 406 MHz beacons, false alerts have
been reduced significantly, and, when properly registered, can usually be
resolved with a telephone call to the beacon owner. Consequently, real alerts can
receive the attention they deserve.
When a 406 MHz beacon signal is received, search and rescue personnel can
retrieve information from a registration database. This includes the beacon
owner's contact information, emergency contact information, and vessel/aircraft
identifying characteristics. Having this information allows the Coast Guard,
or other rescue personnel, to respond appropriately.
In the U.S., users are required by law to directly register their beacon in
the U.S. 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database at:
) or by calling
1-888-212-SAVE. Other users can register their beacon in their country's national
beacon registration database or, if no national database is available, in the
International Beacon Registration Database at
The United States Coast Guard is the lead agency for coordinating national
maritime search and rescue policy and is responsible for providing search and
rescue services on, under and over assigned international waters and waters
subject to United States jurisdiction.