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Two Pearl Harbor Ships Get 'MOBI'

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050201-12
Release Date: 2/1/2005 5:58:00 PM

By Journalist 3rd Class Ryan C. McGinley, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- USS Crommelin (FFG 37) and USS Reuben James (FFG 57) were the first two Pearl Harbor-based ships to be fitted with Man Overboard Identification (MOBI) Systems Jan. 25.

The two Pearl Harbor-based frigates will next deploy with the new system, which is intended to provide immediate notification and rapid recovery of a Sailor or Marine who has fallen overboard.

"We're very proficient at retrieving a [crew member] in the water when we know there's a [crew member] in the water," said Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW) Daniel Roberts, stationed aboard Crommelin. "This system will greatly enhance our ability to know that someone has fallen over the side, especially at night."

According to William Dull, owner of Briar Tek Incorporated, the company that designed and manufactured the system, the MOBI is a water-activated pager-size transmitter worn by Sailors. The system alerts shipboard personnel not only that an overboard incident has occurred, but also immediately identifies the Sailor in distress. In an overboard emergency, three to five seconds of saltwater immersion automatically activates the unit, sending out a VHF signal via a flexible antenna.

The antenna locates the transmitter's VHF signal within a normal surface-to-surface range of one to two nautical miles, said Dull. Transmitters can be tracked up to 18 nautical miles. The transmitter's signal triggers an audible alarm at a receiver located on the ship's bridge. The screen immediately displays the Sailor's identification.

A bridge-mounted unit allows an immediate and coordinated rescue to be directed from the ship. A portable unit installed on the ship's Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat speeds search and rescue personnel directly to the victim.

"Anything we can do to improve the odds of recovering a [crew member] overboard, we definitely want that capability on board," said Ensign Eric Turner, stationed aboard Crommelin. "Safety is always the most important thing we do on board. With everything we do, safety always comes first."

The MOBI is a new system, used commercially for the first time in 1999. The Navy selected the system for use in early 2001, and the first installation was aboard USS Nassau (LHA 4) in March 2002, followed by 20 additional ships for a field evaluation. During this evaluation, while on deployment in the Persian Gulf, the MOBI system aided in the successful recovery of a Sailor who had fallen from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

"It's all about safety and saving our shipmates' lives," said Roberts. "As long as we know someone has fallen over and we can find him, then we've got an incredible chance at saving him."

Permanent installations on all U.S. Navy ships began in late 2004. Fleet installations will continue over the next three years until all Navy Sailors and Marines on all U.S. naval ships are afforded this added protection.

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