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SART- The Emergency Equipment



Safety at sea is definitely the first thing seafarer must bear in mind before starting his navigation. One should definitely have the knowledge ,experience and skills to survive at sea and should definitely have the knowledge of the safety equipment like Search and Rescue Transponder (SART), Compass, EPIRBs, Life Jackets, etc. and how to operate them. It’s a know fact that sea can be disarmingly attractive in one moment and already in other it can change its deceptive nature and can turn into a biggest nightmare once has ever experienced. Therefore safety at sea is very crucial.

 In this article we will study about a vital safety equipment on the ship know as Search and rescue transponder or simply SART.

So first of all What’s a transponder?

A SART is a wireless communication, monitoring, or a control device that picks up and automatically responds to an incoming signal. The term is a contraction of words transmitter and responder.


A Search and rescue transponder (SART) is a self contained , waterproof transponder intended for emergency use at the sea. Its an electronic device that automatically reacts to emission of a radar. SARTs are essentially battery-operated, hence can be operative for a long time. SARTs are of use in ships, liferafts and lifeboats.

Types of SART

There are two types of search and rescue transponders,

  • Radar SART


  • It is made up of fiber-reinforced plastic which can bear prolonged exposure to sunlight and extreme weather condition.
  • It’s a cylindrical shaped equipment, measuring about 13” x 3”.
  • It weighs about 0.9 kg.
  • It’s a brightly Yellow and international orange colored equipment with high visibility.
  • It’s a Lithium battery powered equipment with a shelf life of 5 years.


  • SART operates on the 9.5GHZ frequency band and generates a series of clips on the radar.
  • The SART is activated manually and hence  response only when interrogated.
  • When activated in distress situation SART response to a radar interrogation by transmitting a signal which generates 12 blips on the radar and turns into concentric circles as the range between the two reduces .
  • The distance between the blips will be 0.6 miles on the PPI.
  • The SART also has audio or visual indication of its correct operation and inform survivors when interrogated by the radar.
  • A loud beep is heard every 12 seconds when there are no radars in sight and every two seconds when interrogated by radar.

GMDSS carriage requirement

The GMDSS regulations require vessels between 300 -500 GRT to carry one SART and over 500 GRT to carry two.

Passenger ship carry atleast 2 and 1 on survival craft.

Activating a SART

  • First we have to remove SART from the bracket mounted inside the vessel next to emergency exit while abandoning the vessel and embark life raft.
  • Switch on the SART, it would be indicating a appropriate light signal.
  • If there’s no pole available for the SART or the life canopy support is at least 1m above the sea level, mount it internally.
  • We have to ensure that as soon as the SART detects radar signals and provides appropriate sound and light indication, we have to help rescuers.

SART or EPIRB which is better?

An emergency position indicating radio beacon or EPIRB is used to alert search and rescue service in event of emergency.The 406 MHZ EPIRB provides us far more capability in case of emergency. Providing SAR teams with position accuracy, vessel name , vessel characteristics, owners name and emergency contacts whereas the SART is an electronic device that automatically reacts to the emission of a radar, being in the same general price range provides the capability of being easily located ,even in the poorest visibility which EPIRB lacks of. SART are used to ease the search of a ship in distress or a liferaft.

Servicing of Search and Rescue Transponder (SART)

Marine Orders made under require that a radar transponder must be inspected, tested and have its batteries replaced at intervals specified by its manufacturer. each SART shall be examined at least once a month to check how secure it is its mounting and for signs of damage. SART is a subject to annual performance tests.

SART Tester is professional equipment intended to provide accurate, independent validation of the operation of any Radar-SART in accordance with the requirements of SOLAS – 74/88

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