Sirius Signal announces new dual color & white SOS distress lights

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

16 Responses

  1. Bill Blendick says:

    Hi Ben: What was the demise of SeaKey ? Has anyone replaced it with a satellite driven technology ? We boat in areas that have poor to no cell service and Tge old SeaKey always kept you connected.

  2. Harry Keith says:

    Contrary to marketing, Sirius was NOT the first to come out with a CFR compliant signal light replacing flares. While poorly received by the boating public, and only available for a few years, I bought my first compliant light from ACR in the mid-90’s. Still using it today, although I bought one of the smaller and nicer new units for our new boat.

    I haven’t carried incendiary flares in over 20 years!

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Keith, that’s interesting history. But I can’t find a trace of the ACR distress light on the internet and it seems quite possible that Sirius Signal has no knowledge of it either. It’s really unfortunate that there is no comprehensive repository of marine electronics history. I can’t even suggest where you could donate that light if you’re ever done with it.

      But I’m pretty sure that ACR had a representative on the RTCM working group that developed the latest 13200.0 eVDSD Standard, and I will not be surprised if they come out with their own version. And I’ll expect it to be quite good.

  3. Harry says:

    Indeed, it has vanished from the records. I spoke to the ACR rep at the Annapolis Boat Show last week, and I hadn’t even finished describing it before she was nodding in understanding.

  4. Malbry says:


    The ACR light was built to section 161.013-3 a basic incandescent design point and shot. Sold horribly somewhere in the 1980s. They can still be accepted today if you have one Sirius built 161.013-5 it is quantum leaps from the ACR boat anchor. Factually and correctly Sisiriu Signal wa first to market with the light we can buy today

  5. Harry says:

    There is no doubt that the modern units are vastly superior (as is the case for most electronics over the last 30 years!) and what I carry. And you are right that the Sirius is the first to meet paragraph A for intensity. Perhaps Sirius is making the claim that they are the first to meet that particular feature. But the fact remains that ACR was the first to make a USCG compliant SOS light substitute for flares. And given the danger of flares and the virtual non-use of them, they were at the time a giant step forward. Perhaps a larger step up from flares than the step from ACR to Sirius.

    • Sam says:

      Sirius claims it is the first to produce a USCG-compliant LED light, which is completely accurate, as the older lights mentioned were incandescent technology.

  6. Chuck Hawley says:

    Orion (or as it was probably known then, Olin) also produced at SOS light back in the 80s, around the time when everyone became aware of the carriage requirements for VDSs. As I recall, it was like a lantern battery flashlight, and would blink out the characteristic SOS Morse code. The ACR light came much later, and appeared to be a variation on a molded lantern battery spotlight (but I think both of them used dated D cells rather than lantern batteries).

    The combination of the SOS lights and the orange/black day signal allowed boaters to meet Coast Guard equipment standards without pyros on board.

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Happy to report that the dual-color C-1002 has also now passed the lab testing required and has been accepted by the USCG, see the entry PS above.

  8. Dan Corcoran Dan Corcoran says:

    Ben, can either vendor tell you, and us, if and when these products will be acceptable for use in sailboat racing?

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Dan, I’m not sure what you mean.

      There’s only one vendor discussed here, Sirius Signal, and now both their eVDSDs are approved by the USCG to meet the requirement for a nighttime distress signal (normally filled by flares). So, of course, they’re acceptable for use on sailboats and in sailboat racing, just like whatever nighttime distress signals are carried now.

      I know that some race committees require more than mandated and approved safety gear, but that’s another story. I wouldn’t be surprised if some extra safety conscious offshore races like Bermuda and Fastnet eventually require a dual-color eVDSD and maybe pyrotechnics too, but that has nothing to do with the manufacturers or regulatory bodies like the USCG.

  9. Chuck Hawley says:

    Dan, Ben:

    Excellent question! Dan’s asking if the newly developed LED hand “flare” will be allowed in sailboat racing. The equipment used in sailboat races is governed by US Sailing and the OA or Organizing Authority (the people who put on the race). US Sailing has created the Safety Equipment Requirements, or SERs, that describe the gear required for Nearshore, Coastal, and Ocean races.

    For many years, ocean racers have been required to carry SOLAS specification pyros, including handflares, smoke flares and rocket parachute flares. The number of flares that is carried has been reduced over time due to the increased capabilities of other signalling devices and technologies (DSC/Rescue 21, EPIRBs, SEND devices, etc.)

    The SERs are updated every year with new requirements or simplifcations. You can expect the new generation of signalling devices like the Sirius SOS light to be considered as a replacement to the SOLAS handflare requirement. I don’t see why they wouldn’t immediately be considered a replacement for any races that require USCG-level handflares, as they would be superior in any aspect I can imagine.

  10. Dan Corcoran Dan Corcoran says:

    Yes, what Chuck wrote. We are required to use SOLAS flares (higher standard than USCG) and include types of flares that USCG does not, such as parachute flares, when sailing Category “A” races that go outside Long Island Sound into the ocean. Below is the link to the safety rules we are required to follow. They, in turn, look for guidance from US Sailing and World Sailing (formerly ISAF)

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Nice! The C-1002 dual color SOS eVDSD is officially priced at $300 and ready to ship from Sirius Signal (or Amazon):

    You can also download the C-1002 documentation there, and the app is available for iOS or Android:

    I already have the app loaded and am told that a test unit will head my way tomorrow,.

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