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Submarine distress beacon enters service with Royal Navy


Thales UK’s highly successful submarine distress beacon has been accepted into service with the Royal Navy (RN).

Following a trial period, more than 100 SEEPIRB (submarine-ejected emergency positioning indicating radio beacon) buoys have been accepted into service with all classes of RN submarines, including the new Astute class.

The SEEPIRB has been developed for submarines to provide distress alerting and position information via radio transmissions on a satellite-aided tracking frequency.

The message transmitted by the beacon is unique for each unit, thus providing identification of the transmitter. Once the search and rescue forces are alerted via the satellite-aided tracking network, they can converge on the confirmed position. Intermediate and short-range location is aided by the SEEPIRB’s onboard locator beacon.

SEEPIRB can be launched from standard submerged signal ejectors (SSE) Mk 4, 6, 8 and 10. Launching can take place at maximum operational depth and submerged speeds of up to 15kt. No programming of the SEEPIRB is required. The alert functions, and the vessel and country identifiers are pre-programmed into the beacon as agreed with each customer.

Phil Naybour, head of Thales UK’s naval business, says: “Since winning the RN contract, we have won several additional export contracts and continue to see an increasing interest from around the world in this excellent product.”

The buoy, which is designed and produced at Thales’s Templecombe site in Somerset, is already in service with a number of submarine fleets around the world.

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Notes to Editors:
SEEPIRB is produced by Thales UK’s communications product group, based in Templecombe. This business designs, develops and manufactures radio frequency-based antennas designed for submarines, surface ships and land vehicles, ranging from very low frequency to extremely high frequency, and has expertise in satellite communications (SATCOM) and multi-function antenna systems. Thales also provides custom design and engineering support.

In addition, Thales has considerable experience as a communications systems integrator, with the ability to integrating all the connectivity required between the antennas and various radios. This capability is supported by a dedicated manufac¬turing facility and an antenna test range, also at Templecombe.

About Thales and Thales UK
Thales is a global technology leader for the defence & security and the aerospace & transport markets. In 2009 the company generated revenues of £11.5 billion (€12.9 billion), with 68,000 employees in 50 countries. With its 22,500 engineers and researchers Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equip¬ment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements. Thales has an exceptional international footprint, with operations around the world working with customers as local partners.

Thales UK employs 8,500 staff based at 40 locations. In 2009 Thales UK’s revenues were around £1.5 billion.


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