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Re: 6 Americans, 1 Brit vanish at sea
" Unless specifically tasked, the satellites don't shoot photos."
Ah, that's very different from the inference of their web site, which is that they have SO much coverage. Traditionally, image banks with a historical coverage range have had enough value so that imagery was recorded and stored in the expectation that someone would buy it in the future. I can't see that it costs a lot (of money or consumables) to simply leave the cameras on, and file the images away. It isn't as if the electronics consume fuel, or film cartridges have to be dropped until the stocks are exhausted--the way it used to be.
"I can't think of a better use of US government satellites than to help US and British sailors. "
Oh, I don't know. Let's look at how those satellites get up there. We, the taxpeons, pay money to send them up. Eventually we spend billions of dollars sending them up and maintaining them. Now one of those purposes is defense and national security, and a legitimate case can be made that disclosing ANY information about the type, quality, frequency, etc. of the images compromises security. That's an old cat and mouse game, every player knows that you try to wait for a time when there are no satellites overhead before you shuffle your cards.
Now, let's say national security is no longer an issue. What is simpler, cheaper, and more responsible? To say that everyone in the country has to ante up fifty bucks into the pot, every year, to fund one satellite for some cheapass recreational sailing hobbyists? And yes, I can be a cheapass too, I'm only saying it was their decision to go when and as they did.
Or, should we be cruelly adult about it, and say there are six crew on the boat, every one of them could damn well chip in the same fifty bucks themselves, and buy an EPIRB? Make some commitment themselves, to using the rescue satellite system that after all HAS already been bought and paid for, for their convenience?
I can't altogether disagree with some anonymous uniform who might be saying, right now, "Where were all these concerned people before Nina left port? Why weren't they all concerned enough to crowdsource a couple of EPIRBs and a satphone for that boat?"
And if we ignore that and move forward to say "What can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again?" the answer is really simple, every vessel that departs for open waters will be required to pay a communications rescue fee, which in turn will pay for them being issued communications devices. Cheapasses will be banned from putting to sea.
That's simply being blunt about it, not intending to be cruel. Reality bites.
"Right now, we need the support of the sailing community to help put pressure on the US State Department,..."
Where were you when Coyote was lost going trans-Atlantic? If you remember that at all, you'd rethink asking the sailing community to make a total waste of resources and needless waste of State Department time and temper. You will not get the highest levels of long-standing national security policies overruled in any short timeframe.