Fishermen saved by new alert system –

Fishermen saved by new alert system Published:  15 July, 2008

Image courtesy RNLI

The lives of three fishermen from a Devon based fishing boat have been saved thanks to the McMurdo MOB Guardian man overboard and vessel locater alert system.

The system was designed by the RNLI in partnership with McMurdo, one of the world’s leading suppliers of emergency distress beacons.

This is the first time that the McMurdo manufactured system has demonstrated its full effectiveness in helping to save lives in a real emergency situation.

The RNLI, which operates the MOB Guardian, received a vessel overdue alert off Sark on, Tuesday 24 June, in its Operations Room in Poole, Dorset. After verification the alert was transferred to the agencies responsible for coordinating maritime search and rescue – first to Falmouth Coastguard, who then passed it to the Channel Islands Search and Rescue authority. The RNLI St Peter Port lifeboat from Guernsey was then tasked to search for the missing fishing vessel, FV Guyona.

Using the last MOB Guardian verified position and taking into account weather and tides, the RNLI lifeboat worked out the likely position of the fishing vessel. At the time the lifeboat was on exercise only 12 miles away from the predicted position and the fishermen were located in a liferaft at 6.50pm, five miles south-southwest of Sark, 25 minutes after the lifeboat was alerted.

Guyona was fitted with the new system only three months previously. The crew of the Guyona had deployed their liferaft as their vessel sank, however they had also been in the water for 20 minutes and were battered and bruised by their ordeal.

Crew member David McMurdo had strong praise for his namesake. He said: ‘It saved our lives, no doubt about it. If it wasn’t for that, nobody would have known where we were.’

On average 20 fishermen lose their lives every year in UK waters. In the light of this successful rescue it is hoped that more UK fishermen will now decide to take advantage of the MOB Guardian scheme, which is heavily subsidised by the RNLI.

David McMurdo, along with fellow fishermen skipper Tristan Northway and Leo Piper, were safely brought ashore where they received medical attention. The Guyona, 11.9 metres in length, was based at Brixham, Devon.

The MOB Guardian system gives an early alert to an emergency, helps reduce search time and provides the rescuers with an up to date position for the vessel or man overboard by satellite. If a single-handed fisherman falls over the side of their vessel, the system will automatically alert search and rescue agencies. Also fishermen can wear a fob incorporating a panic button, so should a crew member become ill or caught in machinery, they can easily request help. The system is confidential so location information about a particular vessel is not available publicly. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.