Published Tuesday, 21 August 2012
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It has been paid for by the family and friends of the young Belfast man Joby Murphy, whose body was found a month after he fell into the River Lagan in January while on a night out in the city.
The new sonar has been tested on the River Bann and the Community Rescue Service believe it will make a huge difference to their work.
Sean McCarry, of the service, said that in the past they had to rely on nature, and time, while searching for a person missing at sea or in the region's rivers and lakes.
"With this piece of equipment we are now in a position to do that sometimes in hours, maybe even minutes.
"Many searches went on for months and months, never mind weeks," he added.
Joby's loved ones raised more than £40,000 to buy the equipment after they had to endure an agonising month of searches for his body.
It was similar sonar equipment brought up from Co Cork that finally helped locate the body.
The Murphy family don't want others to endure the same agony.
The new sonar search team will be known as Meerkat, which was Joby's nickname.
The gift will not only preserve the 20-year-old's memory, the new Meerkat team will speed up body recovery operations and spare other families the pain of waiting weeks for their loved ones to be returned.
Mr McCarry added: "This is exactly what we needed and what the community needed and we'll be able to use this equipment not just in Northern Ireland but across the whole island of Ireland and wider afield.
"We've got an agreement with the PSNI that when someone goes missing the equipment will be immediately dispatched within an hour of the person going missing in the water."
"If a person is in the water in the location where we are scanning we will be able to find that person."