Great Yarmouth Coastguard Station no 24-hour cover from Monday 28 Feb 2013, closes completely end of April – 280213 2115z

ITV News: 5:05pm, Wed 27 Feb 2013
“End of an era for coastguard station
For the coastguard station in Great Yarmouth, it’s the end of an era. On Monday, it’ll stop providing 24-hour cover.

It’ll be manned during daytime hours only until the end of April, then it will close completely – a victim of cost-cutting measures.

But there are fears the loss of a local service could endanger lives.

There will still be coastguard teams but no local control point. For Peter Wheeler, an ops room officer at Yarmouth, that’s a worry.

“It’s taking away the real presence of the coastguard locally. There are plans afloat to divide out patch between the stations to the north and to the south and we believe that will work but there’s an interim period where it’s going to be a bit difficult. We are concerned by it and as a union we’re always opposed to the closures of course but we have to accept it’s going to happen.”
– Peter Wheeler, Public & Commercial Services Union

A number of coastguard stations are being axed. Walton on the Naze will go sometime in the next two years and with Yarmouth soon to close, the nearest stations will be Dover to the south and Humber at Bridlington in the north.

Few people know the sea better than Jimmy Buchan, who as skipper of Amity was one of the stars of the TV series Trawlermen.

He’s been in Yarmouth for a conference about offshore energy and as someone who’s relies on coastguards, told me of his concerns that some are being removed.

“I think these stations were always manned by people who had great local knowledge and I think there’s no substitute for that – I understand cost cutting exercises but the reality is when you remove the local man from the local area and centralise it, can he respond in a manner that he understands as quickly, as good and as efficiently as they should? Cost savings not always the best. We’re talking about people’s lives here.” – Jimmy Buchan, Trawerman”

The @Coastguard_SOS campaign states that “Government plans to close 50% of UK Coastguard rescue coordination centres have been thrown into further chaos as an MCA source admits that Coastguard officers including senior officers have resigned this week from Stornoway, Belfast and Liverpool Coastguard centres.

14 out of the remaining 16 stations are already understaffed and some centres such as Belfast and Stornoway have been struggling to put just two members of staff on day and night watches over recent weeks.

The MCA are aware of the dire under staffing problem but have failed to address the issue which threatens public safety on the coasts.

Yarmouth Coastguard are so understaffed that as of Monday they will be relieved of night time duty. They are understaffed as a direct result of officers leaving the service after having been told that their station will close formally in May 2013.

These latest resignations are, we are told, also as a direct result in the Government’s closure programme which neither Ministers or the MCA have fully thought through. Coastguard officers are highly professional and trained to preserve life – Officers can see that poor decisions are being made that will affect the safety of coast users and they are being forced out of the service in order to make a clear statement that the service will not be able to function safely if these cuts are allowed to proceed.

Latest MCA figures show dangerously low levels of staffing at Coastguard rescue coordination centres. This is as a direct result of Government & MCA plans to close stations which has destabilised the service:

So called “safe” stations:

MRCC Aberdeen 21.5 (-30%)
MRCC Belfast 25.64 (+2.64)
MRCC Dover 28.5 (-14%)
MRCC Falmouth 24 (-11%)
MRCC Holyhead 19 (-15%)
MRCC Humber 25.78 (-11%)
MRCC Milford Haven 21 (-7%)
MRCC Shetland 17.57 (-24%)
MRCC Stornoway 24.97 (+1.97)

Closing stations:

MRCC Brixham 19 (-17%)
MRCC Liverpool 18.5 (-19%)
MRCC Portland 23.64 (-8%)
MRCC Solent 26.74 (-7%)
MRCC Swansea 20.5 (-23%)
MRCC Thames 21.6 (-13%)
MRCC Yarmouth 16.78 (-33%)”

More here:

Coastguard SOS


UK Government plan to close 50% of UK Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres Updated 07 Feb 20130001Z

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New search and rescue helicopter base to beconsidered

Could this be the coalition government’s biggest cock-upyet?

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