Registration error hurt search for Lady Mary

May 7, 2009 8:02:49 AM PDT
One digit made a difference in the search for a scallop boat that sank off the New Jersey coast. Testimony at the inquiry into the Lady Mary sinking Thursday revealed how an improperly recorded registration number for an emergency radio beacon delayed the search by nearly an hour and a half.

Six people died.

The radio beacon was off by one number when it was added to a federal database by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration contractor.

A federal satellite search-and-rescue official testified that when the signal was received at 5:40 a.m., there was no word on which boat it was or who to call on shore.

Rescuers couldn't zero in on the boat until a lower-orbiting satellite picked up a signal at 7:07 a.m.

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