Car on ferry sparks major sea search

The RNLI and coastguard spent an hour and a half searching an area of water following a distress signal, only to find out it had come from a car on a ferry

Distress signals that resulted in a major sea search being launched were found to have come from a car on an Irish Sea ferry. Although the signal had ceased, Moelfre Lifeboat was called out in case there were casualties in the water and reached the last transmitted position within 25 minutes.

Lifeboatmen then spent an hour and a half searching the area without success before coastguards realised that the last transmitted position coincided with the location at that time of a P&O ferry en route to Liverpool from Dublin. The Emergency Telematics signal is thought to have come from a GPS system fitted in new BMW and Volvo cars and may have been triggered inadvertently by the vehicle’s driver.

“This is a new problem for us,” said Holyhead Coastguard watch manager Mark Craddock, “but with more vehicles having these devices fitted it could become an issue”.

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