I am writing to let you know that following the independent review of the reponses of the second period of consultation on our proposals to modernise Her Majesty’s Coastguard the Secretary of State for Transport has today announced the Government’s decision. This can be found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/emergencyresponse/mcga-searchandrescue.htm
This means that we have now begun the process of moving to a national networked Coastguard operation with a Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) at its heart. We’re also able to announce today that the MOC will be located near Fareham in Hampshire at a purpose built emergency services control centre that was originally designated as a fire control centre.
In addition to this centre there will also be Coastguard centres. at Dover, Aberdeen, Shetland, Stornoway, Belfast, Holyhead, Milford Haven, Falmouth and Humber all operating 24/7. The London coordination centre will continue to be co-located with the Port of London Authority.
We are also improving the leadership of the volunteer Coastguard Rescue Service by strengthening the numbers of existing regular Coastguard officers based in these coastal communities and I’m also pleased to be able to announce that the Coastguard Rescue Service will be strengthened by an increase of 50% to the number of full time officers available to the volunteers for operational attendance, leadership and advice.
This will allow much more flexibility in the management and training of our volunteers and help to remove the current uneven distribution of Coastguard Rescue Teams between their management.
It will also give a greater presence of Coastguard officers in coastal communities and provide increased opportunity for interaction with other emergency services and coastal leisure and commercial bodies.
These officers will operate in teams with a focal point or operational hub. It is intended that these will be based in;
This structural change is about the way the regular Coastguard service coordinates search and rescue operations. It is not about the UK’s rescue capability. Although we are reducing staff numbers our new structure will give the UK a nationally networked Coastguard service that is resilient, effective and efficient.
I know that you like me will be acutely aware that whilst this announcement is the beginning of a new era for HM Coastguard it will a time of massive change for colleagues currently based in Yarmouth, Thames, Solent, Portland, Brixham, Swansea, Liverpool, Forth and Clyde whose stations will be closing before 31 March 2015.
This structural change is about the way the regular Coastguard service coordinates search and rescue operations. It is not about the UK’s rescue capability. Although we are reducing staff numbers, our new structure will give the UK a nationally networked Coastguard service that is resilient, effective and efficient. We will continue to provide a quality safety service to the mariner and coastal user and I’d like to thank you for your continued support as we move forward.