Increased demand for beacon registry services.

The UK beacon registry continues to experience very high demand for its beacon registry services. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has explained that this is due to the rapid increase in the ownership of Personal Locator Beacons (406 MHz distress beacons) � which is highly beneficial for search and rescue by both marine and aviation communities.

The MCA acknowledges that it is a priority for the beacon registry staff to place critical data into the internationally accessible beacon database. Other nations beacon registries are also experiencing high demand and they too are suffering delays in data input.

The current online form sends the data in an email to the team who then manually type in the information.  The MCA�s IT branch is currently working on an improved system including a customer interface allowing direct input by customers to input and update their own records. This will alleviate the waiting times by allowing the team to simply verify entries.

Registration is not necessary for a 406 MHz beacon to raise an alert

The registration of beacon owner details is a clerical necessity which provides HM Coastguard with details of ownership and contact details. However the registration process is not essential for a beacon�s use nor critical to initiate a search and rescue response.

If a user activates their beacon, it will be detected by the satellite system and the alert will be sent to HM Coastguard who can then initiate a response. Registration is not required to enable the beacon work. The only information HM Coastguard might not have is who the beacon belongs to. This information is clearly useful which is why the MCA encourages everyone to register their 406 MHz beacons so that HM Coastguard can contact the registered user or their families more quickly. However, registration is not vital for locating a beacon if it goes off.  The MCA has told the RYA that it wants to reassure people that if the worst happens and they have to use their beacon, a search and rescue plan will be put into operation, even if their beacon registration hasn�t gone through.

The MCA understands that there may be some frustration for people waiting for their registrations to be finalised but the UK beacon registry team continues to work to complete each individual application as soon as they can.