NOAA 03-096
Contact: Bob Hopkins
NOAA News Releases 2003
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NOAA to Unveil New Campaign at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market
in Salt Lake City, August 14-17

Best selling author and adventurer Clive Cussler will serve as the spokesperson for a new public service campaign to promote Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs). Monitored by satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the beacons emit a signal that can be tracked by a worldwide satellite search and rescue system when they are activated in an emergency. PLBs became operational July 1 in the continental United States.

Cussler is the best-selling author of action/adventure novels featuring the intrepid hero Dirk Pitt ® and his exploits as part of the fictional National Underwater & Marine Agency (NUMA). He has sold more than 130 million books in 40 languages, including his latest bestseller “White Death.” Cussler is also a renowned adventurer and explorer responsible for discovering more than 60 historically significant underwater wreck sites, including the CSS Hunley, the Confederate submarine that was the first to sink a ship in battle. NUMA is a 501c3 non-profit organization, founded by Cussler and dedicated to preserving maritime history.

“I am proud to help NOAA promote this important service,” Cussler said. “As someone who writes about and has experienced the dangers of the great outdoors, I appreciate the value of the life-saving service that Personal Locator Beacons can provide. Safety should be the watchword for every outdoor adventure and with PLBs, you’re more likely to return home safe and sound.”

“We’re excited to have someone of Clive Cussler’s stature as a spokesperson for Personal Locator Beacons,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “It will be extremely important to get this message out to the millions of people who explore the nation’s wilderness every year. The more people that take advantage of this capability means more lives that may be saved.”

The public service campaign will consist of a television and radio PSA featuring Cussler that will be distributed to national, cable and local television and radio stations. A media outreach campaign through press release and direct contact and a poster campaign. The campaign will kick off at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2003 at the Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, Utah on Aug. 14-17 where NOAA will be exhibiting and promoting the new PLB public service campaign.

The new personal beacons have advanced features including global positioning system (GPS) technology, which make it easier and quicker for NOAA satellites to pick up distress signals and relay an accurate location to rescuers. The signals are relayed to the U.S. Mission Control Center at the NOAA Satellite and Information Center in Suitland, Md., for processing.

In the United States, the PLB alerts are routed to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, the single federal agency for search and rescue in the 48 contiguous states. The AFRCC notifies the state rescue agency, or state police in the area where the PLB was activated.

The PLBs send out digital distress signals on the 406-MegaHertz frequency, which are detected by NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) and Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES). GOES, the first to detect a beacon’s distress signal, hover in a fixed orbit above Earth and receive the signals, which contain registration information about the beacon and its owner. The POES constantly circle the globe, enabling them to capture and accurately locate the alerts as a complement to the GOES.

The satellites are part of the worldwide satellite search and rescue system called COSPAS-SARSAT. The COSPAS-SARSAT system is a cluster of NOAA and Russian satellites that work together to detect distress signals anywhere in the world from PLBs and beacons aboard ships and airplanes.

Personal Locator Beacons will be available at outdoor sports and electronic retail outlets across the country. All owners of PLBs and other types of 406-MHz beacons are required to register them with NOAA. The registration includes critical information such as the owner’s name, address, telephone number and the PLB’s unique identification number. The distress signal is checked against a registration database, which contains information to locate the missing person.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of America=s coastal and marine resources.

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