Category 2 EPIRB Manual Deployment Guide

There are primarily two types of EPIRBs that you should be familiar with: Category 1 EPIRBs and Category 2 EPIRBs.

You must know two further terms before buying an EPIRB: activation and deployment.

The activation method is the physical way an EPIRB is turned on so that it can start to signal distress. It can be either auto or manual and you absolutely must know how yours activates.

The deployment method can also be called the release method. It’s the way your device is freed from its housing or cradle. Again this can be done automatically or manually.

Comparison of Category 1 and Category 2 EPIRBs

The key difference between Category I and II EPIRBs is the method by which they are deployed.

Category I EPIRBs are housed in a bracket that automatically releases the beacon when submerged (usually between 1.5 to 4 meters depth), should your vessel sink. They can also be deployed manually and are typically mounted in a location that facilitates both automatic and manual release.

Category II EPIRBs require manual release, meaning you need to physically deploy the EPIRB yourself. They can also be automatically or manually activated.

FeatureCategory ICategory II
ActivationAutomatic or manualAutomatic or manual
DeploymentAuto-release bracket (float-free) or manualRequires manual release
Designed forCommercial vessels, serious offshore boatersCoastal boaters

When picking an EPIRB for your boat, consider factors such as the size of your vessel, the typical number of crew, and the voyages you plan to undertake.

Features and Specifications of Category 2 EPIRBs

Category 2 EPIRBs are essential safety devices designed to signal distress in life-threatening situations at sea. They are characterized by manual deployment and either automatic or manual activation.

Manual activation: You can trigger a Category 2 EPIRB by hand, which is vital if you need to send a distress signal in a controlled manner.

Immersion in water: Although not hydrostatically released, some models can activate upon being submerged, adding an extra layer of safety.

406 MHz distress signal: Transmits a powerful alert to search and rescue satellites, providing a reliable call for help.

121.5 MHz homing signal: Locals can home in on this frequency to assist in pinpointing your exact location.

AIS (Automatic Identification System): Certain AIS EPIRBs broadcast a localized signal that can be detected by nearby AIS-equipped ships.

GPS acquisition: Fast and accurate GPS lock to determine your location quickly and efficiently.

Return Link Service (RLS): Provides feedback to you that your distress signal has been received and help is on the way (available in certain models).

No subscription fees: Generally, no ongoing costs are involved after the initial purchase, making it a one-time investment for peace of mind.

Frequently Asked

When reading reviews for a Category 2 EPIRB, focus on device reliability, battery life, and the conditions under which it has been tested. Look for real-world examples of performance, ease of activation, and the quality of instructions for use. These factors are critical for ensuring your safety in an emergency.

Category 2 EPIRBs can be found through marine safety equipment suppliers and specialty stores.

To facilitate your search, review online marketplaces and retailers that offer a range of maritime safety devices. These include Category 2 EPIRBs equipped with different features to meet your specific needs.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Sailing Savvy. I spent a decade working as a professional mariner and currently, I mix those experiences with digital publishing. Welcome, and I hope that we can be the hub you need for safe passage.