News Item

Lifeboat launched - for car

A lifeboat has been launched after car's eCall sent a distress signal from a ferry on the Irish Sea.

The Moelfre RNLI all-weather lifeboat launched at 2120 BST on 12 June on reports of an emergency signal which had been received from a vehicle tracking unit.

The location of the signal - which had been passed to the North Wales Police from Glasgow Police - was 4 miles off Point Lynas, Amlwch.

The Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat arrived at scene within 25 minutes and made an extensive search of the area. The search was abandoned after 90 minutes.

It appears that the call came from the Dublin-to-Liverpool P&O ferry 'European Endeavour', having originated in a car in the hold. The car was fitted with the new 'Ecall' telematics system, which automatically makes an emergency phone call - including GPS position - if triggered by a g-sensitive device (which assumes that an accident has occurred).

In this case, it seems that the motion of the ferry had triggered the device - the call has been recorded as a false alarm with good intention.

The Coastguard has warned that eCall devices may pose a growing problem to SAR operations - 'This is a new problem for us, but with more vehicles having these devices fitted it could become an issue'.

It is reported that over 300,000 of the devices are already fitted to vehicles in UK - although to high-end cars at the moment, they will become mandatory in all vehicles in Europe.

Details from the RNLI below.

  • 14 June 2011
  • Irish Branch

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