The international specs for 406 beacons (PLB, EPIRB, ELT) require that the device be able to transmit the SOS signal for at least 24 hours when activated even after five years of age.
Some PLB's say they can broadcast for more than the minimum 24 hours, and McMurdo is apparently now advertising a battery that has this capability for six years.
After the battery life period, you need to send the unit in for a new battery. Same thing if you activate it (and live). You must send it in for factory replacement. But who knows, maybe they will have user replaceable batteries in the future.
I have seen unofficial chat forum statements to the effect that a PLB manufacturer may replace a battery for free after a successful rescue because successful rescues reflect well on their product. I don't know if this is true.
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