HM Coastguard closures announced - Ships Nostalgia
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HM Coastguard closures announced

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  #1  
Old 12th December 2010, 06:44
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HM Coastguard closures announced

BBC News has just announced that "Coastguard MRCCs face closure amid spending cuts."

Link to BBC News here.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting here that, "The Department for Transport (DfT) will propose cutting the number of coastguard stations from 19 to eight of which only three are likely to operate round the clock."
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Old 12th December 2010, 08:14
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Disgraceful. This can only result in problems. Not to mention the possible loss of life.
Time for another petition methinks
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Old 12th December 2010, 08:22
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Never sure about cuts such as these - if and only 'if' modern technology can ensure a service that is as good as the present one then I'm afraid we must move with the times. But if it is a purely money saving measure then it should be resisted.

In reality in such cases it usually falls somewhere inbetween.
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Old 12th December 2010, 10:23
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And yet some people still believe that the RFA is safe!

I think that we are all to find out that nothing is safe if it can be sold off to boost someone's pot in Monaco or Liechtenstein.
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Old 12th December 2010, 12:15
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What can you say other than the lunatics have taken over the asylum Bloody stupid idea and yet we appear to be able to fund arseholes in running their sh1t countries without any problems.

I wouldn't mind so much if those in power even bothered to ask me how I would like them to spend MY money.
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Old 12th December 2010, 13:06
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This, of course, has been going on for years, and the excuse has always been that modern shipping doesn't need such services any longer. After all, it now has GPS and radar and echo sounders and 24/7 access to Coronation Street and Eastenders. That's fine until one of them sends out a Mayday and no-one is listening to send out the rescue helicopters and the lifeboats.

Then, what about the recreational sailors who don't have all those sophisticated devices and access to the soaps? Are they less than human because they don't play a role in international commerce? I seem to recall that they found a use during the Dunkirk evacuation and have helped out a few times since.

However, it's a reasonable enough decision when you have a cosy office in Westminster and a limo to take you about. Seamen, whether professional or recreational, are as ever of course expendable.

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Old 12th December 2010, 13:11
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before we get too carried away here - do we actually need this level of coastguard manning in this day and age?

Its an honest question, no one likes to see anyone lose their job, but with GMDSS and such like what sort of coverage is actually required?
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Old 12th December 2010, 13:54
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I am not quite sure how GMDSS affects the requirement for Coastguard manning. It is an automated shipboard communications system, nothing more and nothing less. It just means there is one less person on board who is dedicated to communications in times of crisis.

The coastguard are involved in assisting shipping around our coasts and out to 30 degrees west, in the Atlantic, a total area of some 400,000 square miles or more. The MRCC's coordinate rescue operations over a substantial area of water. Also the coastguard are involved in coastal rescues, pollution incidents and safety issues which are not ship related.

However, looking at the reality that saving life at sea around our shores has been the responsibility of a charity (RNLI) for ever and a day, providing an exemplary service, maybe there are other avenues. As far as the Air/Sea rescue goes, maybe it would work in a similar fashion, but I fear for it being replaced by a consortium who are looking to make a profit out of providing such a service.

The requirements are still for an adequate service, with an adequate response time. If this can be provided with a reduced number of personnel and coastguard stations I cannot argue against it, but it needs to be adequately researched and not be a knee-jerk reaction. I know only too well what it is like to be in a situation with a casualty on board a ship, and no one within range to evacuate them.
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Old 12th December 2010, 17:10
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Unfortunately in these times of austerity, everything is money driven. The Department of Transport have been told to make a saving on their budget and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is not immune to making savings.
However, this reminds me of "Dick Turpin's" cry of "Your money or your life!" In the case of the MCA it would appear money has more say than life.
Modern technology has an important role in the modern Coastguard Service however the old addage still applies that a computer cannot compute all the variable that a human brain can.
I consider the MCA and the politician's decision to be in error. HMCG, as a previous thread mentions, not only has responsibilities toward the professional mariner but also has responsibility to ensure the safety of those using our inshore waters and our coastal walks, cliffs and beaches and in todays joined up emergency service also assists the other emergency services with expertise during coastal searches for missing persons.
I could go on but, suffice to say, I beleive the decision to close stations based on financial savings could be dangerous. History will tell.
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Old 13th December 2010, 16:55
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Unhappy

news just in - 11 stations in the firing line, 250 jobs lost, law changed so that the outcast can only claim 21 months severance with 3 months notice. Glad im not a seafarer any more as lives WILL be lost, never mind an important part of Britain's infrastructure.

Too far in my opinion (but then I would say that, wouldnt I?)

What a mess this country is in - well done - you know who you are

Last edited by bantam; 13th December 2010 at 16:58.. Reason: mongness
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Old 13th December 2010, 17:18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bantam View Post
news just in - 11 stations in the firing line, 250 jobs lost, law changed so that the outcast can only claim 21 months severance with 3 months notice. Glad im not a seafarer any more as lives WILL be lost, never mind an important part of Britain's infrastructure.

Too far in my opinion (but then I would say that, wouldnt I?)

What a mess this country is in - well done - you know who you are
why will lives be lost - I'm not saying it won't happen its just no one has explained it yet
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Old 13th December 2010, 17:45
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Sorry, you would have to be a Coastie to understand, however, technology is fallible and in my experience this is what will cost lives. Cant say no more than that. HMCG is already value for money costing the country no more than the equivalent of 1 mile of motorway - why fix it if it aint broke?

Statements such as "modernisation" and Future do not mix with the Coastguard - 1997 was a bad year.
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Old 13th December 2010, 21:51
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Just read in my local newspaper that the Sea King helicopters at RAF Leconfield are being withdrawn in 2012 and Search and Rescue being replaced by a private company called 'Soteria' with civilian pilots. Bridlington Coastguard which covers a vast stretch of the east coast from Scotland to Norfolk in real danger of closure or part time manning. The article went on to say that in the near future drastic cuts to the Coastguard very likely and only three stations in the UK will be fully manned twenty four hours a day. Where will it all end?
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Old 13th December 2010, 22:42
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Isnt it just recently i read about A coastguard station coordinating a rescue operation on the other side of the world? (Falmouth i believe)
Our HMCG's do a great job and are well worthy of their pay (small as it is for what they do)
Stick our government hero's on a non watertight ship in a force 8 and see if they can cope without the coastguards help to co ordinate a rescue.
Leave our Coastie's alone i say!
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Old 14th December 2010, 04:26
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More ships on the beach and WAFIs dying left and right all summer! Perhaps the idiots in Whitehall will wake up, after the 2011 Admiral's Cup.
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Old 14th December 2010, 10:20
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I am a traditionalist and just love all the Coast Guard MRCC stations spotted around the UK coast. I personally would be very upset to see closures leading to some dedicated personnel losing their jobs.
I also have absolutely no faith in politicians talking about cut backs in order to modernise and make for more efficiency - it is all about saving money.

Having said the above and trying to look at the subject rationally and supressing the strong emotions involved, it just may be that there is some substance in the proposals.
Australia has the largest search and rescue area in the world (but far less ships than many others) and is operated from one RCC situated in an office block in Canberra. This centre is not only responsible for sea search and rescue but for air as well. They have a very good record and don't seem to suffer by being miles away from the coastline.
Their job is to coordinate rescues and this is carried out very effectively from Canberra. The on scene personnel are as allocated by the MRCC, water police, navy, merchant ships, helicopters, single engine aircraft, etc., etc. The MRCC does not need a building and people overlooking the sea nearby in order to coordinate the search and rescue.

As far as I am aware the Coast Guard carry out the same function (I am very happy to be corrected on this point) and allocate resources such as the RNLI, helicopters, ships, tugs, etc., etc.

We only have to look at how shipping has changed (many say not for the better) and how these dreadful box boats with minimal crew do the job far better than we ever did in the old liner company days. We can never stop change in the name of efficiency and if it has happened at sea there is no reason it can't happen ashore.
Please tell me if I have the wrong end of the stick but the future does not look too rosy for our friends in the Coast Guard.
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  #17  
Old 14th December 2010, 10:32
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Thats the thing JB - I tend to look at things rationally and while I am not adverse to change I really don't like seeing people lose their jobs and certainly don't want a drop in standards, I also appreciate that there is a lot of new technology out there and there are more efficient ways of dealing with things.

I have heard the same thing down the years in many industries and invariably the result is the same - people give way to machines and in reality very little if any change is noticed except within the actual organisation in question.
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Old 14th December 2010, 13:35
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A former CG

I like JB will be very sad to see the number of MRCC and MRSC's reduced.

Why might lives be lost? mainly because experience will be lost in the short term.

Australia is a good example of one RCC serving the whole country, its a very big one while the USA on the other hand have several MRCC's. One important difference between Oz and the UK is that they coastal SAR infrastructure has evolved in a different way. Local SAR rests in the hand of a full time police force supplemented by additional resources, so the police are your regular coastguards at the coal face so to speak. Canberra then performs as the co-ordination centre.

The RNLI [ with whom I also served as a DLA & sometime crew member] per4form a superb job but they are co-ordinated by the coastguard, dont be confuse into thinking that one can do the others job.

I was at Lands End MRCC which developed the world wide function before handing it over to the larger newly built station at Falmouth in 1981. Technology can achieve an immense amount but it can NEVER EVER replace experience.

If we are very very lucky lives will not be lost or casualties occur, but working on the LOVAT, LADY KAMILA, TUNGOFOSS, MUNCHEN, FASTNET 1979 and PENLEE/UNION STAR I know that its not something I would stake my life upon.

I fear that until the UK has developed the infrastructure around our coast, already experienced enough to step into the Coastguards shoes this programme should be a very slow process not wipe out half the stations in one foul swoop.

Eventually I can see the Fire Service and RNLI working the coastline with the police and what is left of the CG co-located with the RAF in Scotland.


Martin - a former CG
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  #19  
Old 15th December 2010, 08:59
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A few facts.

There are less than 300 F/T Coastguard officers in the MCA who work in Coastguard station Operations rooms (18 stations) or on the coast.
Technology - this keeps falling over. in 2009 the whole of East Coast of Scotland was with out Coastguard cover more than 60 times. The worst of these lasted for 9 hours. Plenty of other issues wirth the technology all over the UK constantly.
Every Coastguard station been allowed to run with vacancies. At one Coastguard station 6 vacancies out of 19 posts. This been going on for years.
This station covers from Stonehaven to the English Border including all the way up the Forth and Tay estuaries to Alloa and Perth. It has more than a third of the population of Scotland within its district. Frightenly too often running with only 2 Coastguards on watch. One of which has been under training.
This situation is not unique to this station alone.

Coastguards have been underpaid for years compared to the other emergency services. Emergency Call received at Police HQ will it get you saved from a murderer or rapist? An emergency call to Coastguard station results more than often to get you saved.

I mention the underpaid bit just to remind you of the expenses scandal and how much politicians (the ones who are cutting the Coastguard) stole from taxpayers.

Who would you trust Politicians or Coastguards?

Politicians - make spurious expenses claims even though they are millionaires like Cameron, Clegg, Laws (Treasury Minister who had to resign after taking up post). But never mind they made the claims within the rules, Duck Houses, flipping homes, paying their spouses and partners 40,000 a year (or taxpayers paying it), still complaining about about the body set up to overlook their claims, what about their junket to foreign climes on dodgy fact finding reasons.

or

Coastguards, even though underpaid and understaffed more than not will rescue you from the sea if God forbid you ever got into trouble.
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Old 15th December 2010, 10:57
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I am a serving Coastguard Officer based on the east coast and have personal experience with MCA technology and if I were still at sea relying on it to help me when in the deep brown smelly stuff I would be extremely worried. The MCA would have you believe the system in place is robust and even if a station goes down the slack would immeadiately be taken up by the station paired with it. Unfortunately when our station falls over (a more and more frequent occurance) it is not unknown for our paired station to fall over at the same time effectively leaving our stretch of the coast uncovered. The contingency plan for this is for the station to be abandoned and moved to another location and for the remote aerial sites to be manned by Coastguard Rescue Officers (Volunteers - and very good ones at that but not trained in SAR co-ordination). People in the UK may have noticed a great deal of snow recently which has brought the country to a virtual standstill. Would our CRO's have been able to get to the sites? (The majority located on high ground in exposed areas, indeed when one of the sites fell over recently engineers were unable to attend to fix it because of the conditions!). I think it unlikely that we would have been able to man up and provide the coverage required under IMO GMDSS requirements.
Next we have the language problem. I know we all come from the UK and we all speak the Queens English but have you ever heard a Fraserburgh, Oban, Campletown or Fifer fisherman speaking it? I have been in my current post for more than a couple of years now and some of these guys might as well be speaking Swahili at times for all I can understand them. Can you imagine the difficulties some poor officer down in deepest Hampshire is going to cope with even the simplest requests for information, never mind a full blown emergency. This all comes under the "local knowledge" provided by the many stations around our coast, just the same as the locals naming positions around the coast according to their history and not according to the Admiralty charts. I have no doubt the same could be said for fishermen out of Penzance, Ipswich and North Wales.
If as is suggested the format is to be 3 full time stations backed up by 5 part time / day time stations I can only assume that you will have the 3 full time stations co-ordinating all distress and urgency around the UK coast with the other 5 dealing with day to day request for information and other routine taskings. Assuming that Dover will remain as the co-ordination centre for the English Channel and MRCC Solent becomes the MRCC for the rest of England / Wales as indicated by planning permission sought from Hampshire County Council that leaves one other location to cover Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as the Atlantic out to 30W. How this is going to work I don't know, but there again I'm just another drone who needs to know nothing and do as I am bid. Interesting times ahead I think if I still have a job this time next year!
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Old 15th December 2010, 11:34
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Good to hear this information from the source. So true about the local knowledge and dialect ! Down here in Great Yarmouth I have read that there are plans to move the operation to Cambridge ! Mad or what......... As someone who over the years have been involved in various rescue operations at sea I cannot believe the ignorance of politicians on anything to do with the sea. Also the crazy and very misleading information that seems to be fed to the press on such things. I fear the worse and wonder what will happen the next time we have a major incident
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Old 15th December 2010, 11:34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Watcher1961 View Post
I am a serving Coastguard Officer based on the east coast and have personal experience with MCA technology and if I were still at sea relying on it to help me when in the deep brown smelly stuff I would be extremely worried. The MCA would have you believe the system in place is robust and even if a station goes down the slack would immeadiately be taken up by the station paired with it. Unfortunately when our station falls over (a more and more frequent occurance) it is not unknown for our paired station to fall over at the same time effectively leaving our stretch of the coast uncovered. The contingency plan for this is for the station to be abandoned and moved to another location and for the remote aerial sites to be manned by Coastguard Rescue Officers (Volunteers - and very good ones at that but not trained in SAR co-ordination). People in the UK may have noticed a great deal of snow recently which has brought the country to a virtual standstill. Would our CRO's have been able to get to the sites? (The majority located on high ground in exposed areas, indeed when one of the sites fell over recently engineers were unable to attend to fix it because of the conditions!). I think it unlikely that we would have been able to man up and provide the coverage required under IMO GMDSS requirements.
Next we have the language problem. I know we all come from the UK and we all speak the Queens English but have you ever heard a Fraserburgh, Oban, Campletown or Fifer fisherman speaking it? I have been in my current post for more than a couple of years now and some of these guys might as well be speaking Swahili at times for all I can understand them. Can you imagine the difficulties some poor officer down in deepest Hampshire is going to cope with even the simplest requests for information, never mind a full blown emergency. This all comes under the "local knowledge" provided by the many stations around our coast, just the same as the locals naming positions around the coast according to their history and not according to the Admiralty charts. I have no doubt the same could be said for fishermen out of Penzance, Ipswich and North Wales.
If as is suggested the format is to be 3 full time stations backed up by 5 part time / day time stations I can only assume that you will have the 3 full time stations co-ordinating all distress and urgency around the UK coast with the other 5 dealing with day to day request for information and other routine taskings. Assuming that Dover will remain as the co-ordination centre for the English Channel and MRCC Solent becomes the MRCC for the rest of England / Wales as indicated by planning permission sought from Hampshire County Council that leaves one other location to cover Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as the Atlantic out to 30W. How this is going to work I don't know, but there again I'm just another drone who needs to know nothing and do as I am bid. Interesting times ahead I think if I still have a job this time next year!




Watcher1961 - we are both serving CG's. The public need to know that if the technology doesn't work when two stations are paired how are they going to get it to work with only three stations for the whole country during the time period when the day stations are closed.

The same incidents that happened 10, 20 30 50 100 years ago are still happening and will continue to happen. They are accidents and accidents happen.
I bet the Chief Executive is holding his fingers crossed on both hands for a long time to come because as a seafarer himself he should know that it is just a matter of time before another big one comes along. The politicians do not give a monkeys because they come and go in Government the only thing they care about is their expenses and their second and third jobs where they make oodles of money because mugs like us vote them into parlaiment.
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Old 15th December 2010, 12:20
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If there was any justice in this world then when the CG stations have all been closed and there is a major incident at sea, with loss of life because no-one responded to calls for help, then the responsible politicians should be duly taken out deep sea and summarily drowned. Then for once they might accept that they don't actually know better than the professionals.
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Old 15th December 2010, 12:31
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Ok I am openly being Devils advocate here mostly because I just want to understand a bit more of things.

Axles - you state "The same incidents that happened 10, 20 30 50 100 years ago are still happening and will continue to happen."

Are we dealing with these incidents more or less effectively?

Watcher - you say "Unfortunately when our station falls over (a more and more frequent occurance) it is not unknown for our paired station to fall over at the same time effectively leaving our stretch of the coast uncovered."

What do you mean by "fall over" and why should two stations go down at the same time?
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Old 15th December 2010, 12:42
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As I indicated in the RFA section we are faced with a Government that want's to divest/reduce itself of everything and anything that is Government owned, from what I read the purpose being to build up a "War Chest" to make Tax Cut's at some point in the future prior to the next election which may be sooner rather than later if there is a fallout within the Con/Dem's. When I visited Boulmer and spoke to the RAF member's about the privatisation the only saving grace was that the new Company will be likely to recruit ex RAF Aircrew and Groundcrew who had retired from the RAF.
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