Originally Posted by boristhebold
To the person in Studland bay this morning testing the MOB SAR Function of their kit.
Don't test an emergency function before speaking to the coastguard and checking whether it is ok to do so.
We were in the area on the way back from Weymouth at the same time. We got the "MOB SAR alert" message on our plotter (connected to an AIS System).
I didn't even know this type of message existed, but we stopped and could see a red "X
" MOB cross on the plotter along with a message with a bearing and distance from us (about 1 mile at the time).
We called Solent Coast Guard on 16 to verify whether the MOB alert was genuine, and as the CG could only say that they had seen the same message, we proceeded to the location to report back to the CG.
As Boristhebold found - it was a lady in a rib testing the system. However - in her defence she said she had phoned the coastguard earlier in the morning to let them know she was doing it. They just seemed to have ignored the information!
I reported back to Solent CG to let them know, but 5 minutes later someone else called the CG on 16, and the CG had already forgotten that I had let them know what was happening!
The system that was being tested was (I think) an AIS MOB Device like the McMurdo Smartfind S20
. Each MOB device has a unique identity with (I think) a unique MMSI number - which is why last week we kept receiving new messages from each of the 4 devices being tested. If you had 4 crew on board who all went MOB, each one would have been tracked separately to aid recovery.
Whilst it was annoying that the CG couldn't let people know they were being tested (and it would have helped if the lady testing them had been monitoring CH16 so she could let us know it wasn't a genuine MOB event) - the system worked really well. It seems that those of us with an AIS receiver connected to a plotter would have been very quickly on the scene to help with a MOB recovery. We were there within a couple of minutes of receiving the alert.
A standard PLB or DSC alert would have taken much longer to get help, and from personal experience, a DSC alert (especially in the Solent) is much easier to ignore or miss than an AIS message telling you exactly where the MOB event is and putting it directly onto your plotter.
For Scotland, much of Ireland and outside the Solent, an AIS MOB might not be that useful - but for the English Channel and South Coast, I'm now thinking for when I'm out on my own it might be a good addition to my Xmas list!