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Author Topic: Coastguards Need Your Help!  (Read 14550 times)
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Budgie
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« on: January 02, 2011, 01:26:20 AM »

You may have seen or heard in the local and national media that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s management and UK Government are proposing to restructure HM Coastguard from its current structure of nineteen 24/7 stations, to just three 24 hours stations and five day stations.
If these proposals go ahead it will impact on your local station which will either be closed or become a Day Station with a staff level of less than half the present number and an as yet undisclosed role, unless you live in or around Aberdeen which could be one of the two Maritime Operations Centres in the UK.

For Scotland the plans mean that Aberdeen will become the only 24 hour Maritime Operations Centre for the northern UK with sub-stations, working day light hours only at either Stornoway or Shetland and either Belfast or Liverpool.
The unsuccessful stations will close, as will Clyde & Forth Coastguards.

We are asking for your support to ensure that those who live, work and play on or around the seas and diverse, beautiful and often hostile coastline of Scotland, continue to be served by a local Coastguard Station that has an intimate knowledge of our unique environment and society.

For more information on this issue, please visit the websites at www.stornowaycg.co.uk for Stornoway Coastguard and www.shetlandcoastguard.info for Shetland Coastguard. There you will find links to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency web site where you can download a copy of the consultation document containing full details of Management’s proposal.

Most importantly please respond to the consultation document (instructions are on the MCA website).
Please note that the response form is not easy to fill in and has been provided as the official route to respond by the MCA Management. Please consider filling in, as a minimum, the first part that describes who you are and who you represent and the last box where you can make your own general comments.

If you have any questions then please post them in here and either myself or Bob (Shetland Coastie) will attempt to help.

Martin
Watch Manager
MRCC Stornoway
« Last Edit: January 02, 2011, 08:26:00 AM by Budgie » Logged

sandy
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2011, 11:04:59 PM »

Hi martin
Would you mind if I pasted you last post into the site Outdoors Magic, that is for Hill Walking and Camping, Scotland is a favorite destination.
I would not copy the last 5 lines of text.
Some on the site are involved with the Mountain Rescue ect.
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Budgie
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2011, 12:40:38 AM »

Hi Sandy,

Your welcome to use it and include the last 5 lines as we know that the form isn't easy to fill in.  Wink

Thanks

Martin.
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carseman
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2011, 01:37:17 PM »

I saw this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-12141258 on the BBC News website today.

Chris
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sandy
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2011, 07:15:26 PM »

One comment I came across was
- There are already vast swathes of the west coast where there is neither mobile phone coverage or VHF cover for that matter. Imagine what it'll be like if they close Stornoway, Clyde and/or Belfast.-
What effect ( for example) would closing a Coastguard centre have on the radio signal in the area as refered to above ?

A question I would like to ask is, if for the sake of argument Stornoway is closed,what effect will it have on the  Coastguard members who search the cliffs and beaches in that area ect, will they be layed off as well? when darkness comes down would they stop patroling ( and would they stop in darkness at present).
sandy
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Budgie
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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2011, 10:35:38 PM »

I saw this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-12141258 on the BBC News website today.

Chris
Yep, that was the Press Release I wrote yesterday.  Grin

One comment I came across was
- There are already vast swathes of the west coast where there is neither mobile phone coverage or VHF cover for that matter. Imagine what it'll be like if they close Stornoway, Clyde and/or Belfast.-
What effect ( for example) would closing a Coastguard centre have on the radio signal in the area as refered to above ?
None at all. The remote aerial sites that we currently operate will be transferred to either the Aberdeen &/or Southampton centres.
The radio coverage will remain unchanged, you'll just be speaking to someone who could be 700 miles away and have no idea about where you are unless you pass a latitude & longitude from your GPS or a map grid reference.
This is a valid question and I'll add it to the FAQ page on the website.  Wink

Quote
A question I would like to ask is, if for the sake of argument Stornoway is closed,what effect will it have on the  Coastguard members who search the cliffs and beaches in that area ect, will they be layed off as well? when darkness comes down would they stop patroling ( and would they stop in darkness at present).
There is nothing in the consultation document that mentions altering the way that the Coastguard Rescue Teams operate, including numbers.
There is mention of increasing the number of Coastal Safety Managers (called Sector Managers at the moment) and there will be an on-call duty CSM who will supply local knowledge to the Maritime Operations Centre and be available to attend incidents for local co-ordination, liaison with other emergency services and press liaison.
All this will be on top of the normal daily duties the CSMs will have like emergency planning groups, training the Coastguard Teams, Fishing Vessel inspections........................They'll be busy people!
One slight flaw we've noticed is that; what if the duty CSM is in Fortwilliam and the incident is on Benbecula? 

These are my interpretation of the consultation document, reality may be different but it's all a guessing game at the moment as no details have been released.  Wink

Martin.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2011, 11:33:12 PM by Budgie » Logged

Budgie
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2011, 12:40:08 AM »

Sandy,

I've had a look through the thread on Outdoors Magic and there's a couple of other things I can clear up.

MF (Medium Frequency) radio is the long range radio used at sea. At night we at Stornoway can talk to the Canadian Coastguard in Halifax & St Johns, we also speak to the Petrojarl Foinaven FPSO to the West of Shetland each week for their regular MF checks. We also hear a number of other vessels & platforms in that area but don't answer unless they call us, most call Shetland Coastguard.
There are plans for the MF radio to be enhanced in the near future with the latest base station equipment and more powerful transmitters. Both Shetland and Stornoway will be getting this equipment but when, we don't know. What ever happens to the stations, the MF cover will still be there.

Local Knowledge
Local knowledge isn't just a case of knowing the coastline in detail, we've got maps & charts for that.
It's more about knowing the villages, towns, headlands, lochs, hills & mountains.
Areas with poor or no VHF or mobile phone coverage.

If someone says they are in Tarbert, which Tarbert are they in, Jura, Harris, Argyll................?
If they say they are in "Valtos", do you know to look for "Bhaltos" on the OS map?
Both the above are needed for you to be able to get the correct Coastguard Team, otherwise you could call out the wrong one and waist time!

Would you know that the report of plane wreckage wash up in the shore could be a practice drone from the MOD range and that you have a Coastguard who works there?
That a paramedic is a member of the lifeboat crew but he can't attend if on duty with the Ambulance service?

If you get a position for a 999 call that puts the incident on Berneray and your mapping system tells you that the closest Coastguard unit is at Leverburgh, would you send that team? You could, but they would have to wait for the ferry. You should send another team that's further away but has direct road access.

There are a lot of differences between the Fire Service and the Coastguard.

Fire only have their own units to look after at an incident.
Coastguard have their own units (CG teams, Helos) they also have lifeboats, RAF/Navy helos, fishing vessels, yachts, ferries, commercial vessels helping in a search, not to mention that the crews may speak no or little English.

Fire only use one radio net and receive calls on 999/112.
Coastguard can receive calls via MF radio, VHF radio, MF DSC (Digital Selective Calling), VHF DSC, Satellite comms (phone, email & Telex), EPIRB (Satellite Beacons), normal phone lines, 999/112, other emergency services, via reports of flares, flashing lights or smoke.

Most fire incidents are coordinated on the ground by a senior officer or Watch Manager.
Maritime Distress is coordinated from the Rescue Centre as they can do the search planning, tasking units, broadcasts and investigation as well as being a single point of contact and base for large scale incidents. This includes working with foreign Rescue Centres.
Stornoway's area is bound by Canada, Greenland, Iceland, USA, Ireland and the Faroes. We also deal with the French & Spanish Coastguards as they have fishing vessels who operate in our area.

So, you see, it's not just a case of loosing a "call centre", all this could be handled by a small team in Southampton if these plans go through.
The Command & Control System that they are talking about (as we understand it) is going to be internet based and, as we all saw on the 6th December, it's easy to take down half the UK's broadband with a problem at Edinburgh. No broadband = no Coastguard cover.

I hope that explains things a little better and clears up a few points.  Wink

Martin.   

     
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sandy
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2011, 06:26:51 PM »

I heard the Coastguard cutbacks mentioned twice today in the House of Commons Questions, they mentioned stations in the south of England.
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Budgie
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2011, 12:16:42 AM »

Our local MSP got it mentioned in the Scottish Parliament before Christmas and we have lodge an e-petition with the Scottish Government to push for them to raise it with Westminster.  Wink

Edit: I found the items in PM Questions, one for Brixham & one for Belfast: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmtoday/cmdebate/02.htm
« Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 12:30:13 AM by Budgie » Logged

sandy
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« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2011, 11:22:18 PM »

Thought this would be of interest although I am sure you guys know more about it than me.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-12290251
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Budgie
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« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2011, 06:00:54 PM »

We heard about this just before we held a Public Meeting in Stornoway.
It seems to depend on which report you read as to whether it was Stornoway or Shetland on the draft. I've see a couple of reports that said Liverpool and Stornoway were set to close, leaving Belfast & Shetland.  Roll Eyes

It doesn't really effect the campaign because if we do stay open, going to a day station is still going to be a reduction in service as far as we're concerned.  Wink
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sandy
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2011, 03:24:37 PM »

I came across this question in the hillwalking forum, any ideas
Does anyone have any information about the future of the Aeronautical Rescue Co-Ordination Centre at RAF Kinloss, given the planned closure of that base?  Come to that, what of the RAF Kinloss MRT?  Been Googling around, but can't seem to find any coverage of this issue.
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Budgie
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2011, 12:27:25 AM »

You know as much as me on this one, Sandy.
I'm guessing the the ARCC will either move to a new location or be integrated with a MRCC to become a JRCC (Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre).
No idea about the fate of the MRT though.  Sad
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sandy
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« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2011, 06:46:41 PM »

http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2011/02/15/police-and-fire-services-back-campaign-to-save-coastguard-stations
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Budgie
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« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2011, 09:09:02 PM »

Yep, saw that one Sandy.
We've had great support all round and I see that the Police are now in the same boat as the Coastguards with a consultation document released about reducing the Scottish forces to just one national Police Force.
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