The Satellite Aided Search & Rescue transponder on board ISRO’s INSAT-3A satellite has helped in saving the lives of 28 persons on August 11, 2003 by detecting the distress signals from a Chinese cargo vessel, M V YUJIYA, which sank in the Bay of Bengal. Soon after the distress signals were detected, the rescue authorities of Indian Coast Guard were alerted by ISRO’s Indian Mission Control (INMCC) Centre at Bangalore which is part of the international COSPAS- SARSAT Satellite Aided Search & Rescue Programme and all the 28 persons on board the vessel were rescued. INSAT-3A, launched on April 10, 2003, carries a Search & Rescue transponder that keeps a constant vigil over the Indian Ocean region, complementing the COSPAS-SARSAT satellites, for detecting distress signals from beacons carried by maritime, aviation and land users. The satellites transmit the distress signals to the Local User Terminals established by ISRO at Bangalore and Lucknow. The alert signals are then passed on to the Search & Rescue Coordination Centres at Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi, along with location information, for rescue operations.
A month ago, on July 24, 2003, this Satellite Aided Search & Rescue System detected a distress signal from a Panama Cargo Vessel, M V JUBILEE, which was sinking in the Bay of Bengal. All the 21 crew members of that vessel were also rescued.