All aboard, all that is left is to release the mooring rope and sail out. Lead by an experienced skipper Mr. Neno, we glide with Benneteau’s motor boat from the Ičići marina towards the open sea. This warm day, almost without a breath of air and calm seas remind us that it is July 18 – the heart of the tourist season.
Today’s test activation is performed in the cooperation with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, the MRCC, VTS Center Rijeka (National Coordination Headquarters for the Supervision and Administration of Maritime Traffic) and Crocon d.o.o., a general distributor of the McMurdo brand for the Croatian market. This test will demonstrate the principle of functioning as well as test capabilities of a SART (Search and Rescue Transponder), intended for emergency use at sea and designed to assist in survivor craft location during search and rescue operations.
The Kvarner Bay was chosen for this test activation. The Port Authority and VTS Center’s radars should detect the signal in minimum time. In addition, the radar of Benneteau’s motor boat should also detect the source of the signal and the route we should take in order to reach the party in distress. In order to simulate a distress situation on a survival craft, we sent Crocon’s representative on an inflatable dinghy and set him off 3 nautical miles towards the open sea, right in the heart of the Kvarner Bay. After the telephone call informing us that the SART will be activated, we gathered around the radar’s screen and waited for the signal.
It would be good now, also to describe SART’s principle of functioning, as a device designed for assisting survival crafts rescue operations, which comes with a mounting holder and is most commonly stored aboard and mounted on the wheelhouse’s wall or some other easily accessible location. In emergency situations, the SART is taken off from the holder and carried on the rescue boat. Its activation is very simple, by taking off the security protection and rotating the sliding switch from position 0 to position 1. SART’s standard range is 10 Nm but grows in proportion to the elevation above the sea surface and hence comes equipped with an integrated extending pole 1,5m long, which should be held, after activation, towards the sky. When a radar pulse is received, the SART automatically transmits a response signal with an entire range of pulses that will be identified on the radar screen as a stream of dots that routes other vessels and the search and rescue services towards the survival craft. Once activated, the SART will remain active for a minimum of 96 hours. It doesn’t require battery recharging, just a replacement once in 5 years. In addition, it is important to mention that it is waterproof and buoyant.
After only 5 seconds from the SART activation, we saw a clearly plotted stream that gave us information about the distance and the direction of the course to take in order to reach the survival craft. Moreover, we were informed from the VTS Center that our SART was visible on the Port Authority and VTS Center’s radars.