You may have heard of the re-organisation of the Coastguard Service - something which will affect us all. A consultation document called, Protecting Our Seas and Shores in the 21st Century - Consultation on proposals for modernising the Coastguard 2010, has been issued by the Marine and Coastguard Agency and is available here for you to discover the details.
Mike Penning, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, writes one of the forewords in which he states, "Like many in the industry, I also recognise that the Coastguard needs urgent modernisation to keep pace with changing demands, changing technologies, and our changing economy." He finishes, "Ultimately, I am confident a more effective, efficient Coastguard will emerge, ready to meet the challenges of the decades ahead."
Many bodies concerned with safety at sea would consider his confidence misplaced. The re-organised service will consist of
- the formation of two interlinked Maritime Operations Centres (MOCs) possibly at Aberdeen and Lee-on-Solent
- two sub-centres at Dover and London
- five new subcentres at Falmouth, Swansea, Humber and Belfast or Liverpool and Stornaway or Shetland.
Our nearest Coastguard station will be Humber but that will not be manned 24 hours - overnight there will be no watch between Dover and Aberdeen!
This is a consultation document to which the Crouch Harbour Authority has responded. Mark Wakelin, the Harbour Master, feels the proposals "go several stages too far in terms of cuts" and deplores the closure of both Walton and Yarmouth on the East Coast.