PLB distress beacon

Date: Tuesday 21 May 2019

Location: River Fal and Carrick Roads

Weather: NE 3, Calm Sea and No Swell, Excellent Visibility, Sunny

All weather lifeboat: (Launched 07:20 / Released 10:15) – Jonathan Blakeston(Coxswain), Dave Nicoll, Jonathan Hackwell, Jamie Connoly,  Jamie Wakefield, Will Allen, Tamara Brookes, Andy Edwards, Lloyd Barron

Inshore lifeboat: (Launched 08:32 / Released 10:15) – Tom Telford (Helmsman), Sandy Procter, Chris Simpson


At 07:09 Falmouth Coastguard requested that Falmouth All Weather Lifeboat be launched to investigate a distress alert from a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) with an initial unresolved position near Malpas. The Falmouth Coastguard Cliff Rescue Team was also tasked to assist in the initial search.

The All-Weather Lifeboat left its pontoon berth at 07:20 and headed up the Carrick Roads arriving off Turnaware Bar at 07:39. The Coastguard Helicopter and the St Agnes Coastguard Cliff Rescue Team were also tasked to assist with the Helicopter getting airborne at 07:54. The lifeboat carried out a Direction Finding (DF) and visual search of the Carrick Roads, River Fal and then the Truro River until it reached Malpas at 08:07. Both the lifeboat and the helicopter were getting a weak signal from the beacon, so the lifeboats Y-Boat was launched to continue the search upriver towards Sunny Corner to assist the Cliff Rescue Team with their search.

At 08:20 the Coastguard confirmed that they had received an updated resolved position for the beacon which placed it off Pendennis Point, so at 08:25 the Inshore Lifeboat was requested to launch to assist with the search. The Inshore Lifeboat launched from her slipway at 08:32 and commenced a search of Pendennis Point and the coastline to Gyllyngvase Beach. The All Weather Lifeboat was also requested to proceed back down river to try and home in on the beacon. With the help of the helicopter the signals were tracked to Falmouth Docks where both the Lifeboats and the Cliff Team concentrated their search.

At 10:15 the Coastguard requested that the lifeboats divert to assist a 10m Motorboat which was taking water off Trefusis Point.

The PLB beacon was registered to a vessel that was confirmed to be operating in the North Sea. The crew advised that the beacon was associated with a lifejacket that could not be located on board the vessel. Arrangements were made by the Coastguard for an official from Ofcom to try and pinpoint the source of the alert using their comprehensive direction-finding equipment.