Weatherdock warns on misleading equipment descriptions

Paul Gunton
Paul Gunton

09 May 2019

Germany-based safety and navigation equipment supplier Weatherdock has issued a statement warning that incorrect product descriptions may mislead operators into purchasing unsuitable equipment for compliance purposes. The warning also extends to operational limitations of some personal locator beacons (PLBs).

The warning says that some PLBs which are simple AIS MOB alarms are being described as AIS SARTs. It reminds that to meet SOLAS rules a true AIS SART must fulfil all 35 test scenarios of SOLAS classification successfully to be listed as an AIS SART. If only some of the tests are carried out or if not all tests are completed successfully, the product cannot be labelled as an AIS SART.

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Sometime on the packaging there are sentences like “tested according SOLAS”. This indicates that this product is not a real AIS SART. Non SOLAS listed AIS PLBs have to be named AIS MOB – nothing else. Wrong classified safety related products are not reliable as they seem to be. By calling them AIS SART for any marketing issue will suggest a better performance than it really is.

The warning also explains the difference between quoted power transmissions saying transmission power will be generated on the layer circuit. But there is a regular physical loss of the signal strength before reaching the antenna shaft for transmitting. This loss would be about 3db which means approx. 50% or more. Thus a signal strength of 1 Watt generated on the layer will be transmitted with 0.4 Watt from the antenna which is not that much. 1 Watt radiated power needs more than 3 Watt generated, because of the loss. True AIS SART units need to have at least 1 Watt radiated power or more.

Finally, the warning says that some AIS PLB devices in the market need to be prepared manually for an automatic activation if the unit is submerged. Without preparation – no activation - which can cost a life at sea. Weatherdock says that to eb effective an AIS PLB should be automatically activated in case the user is unconscious.