UK Coastguard stations to be cut
The UK Government has announced its decision to cut Coastguard stations from 18 to only 3 operational full time.
The 24-hour stations will be at Aberdeen, Dover and Southampton/Portsmouth, with a further five daylight-only stations at Swansea, Falmouth, Humber, Belfast or Liverpool and Stornoway or Shetland. A small station on the River Thames in London will also remain.
The UK Shipping Minister has explained that the full-time centres would be maritime operations centres capable of managing incidents wherever they occur; the sub-centres would be fully integrated into the national network around the coast - but operate in daylight hours only.
The DfT must cut its spending by 15% over the next 4 years as a result of the recent Comprehensive Spending Review. It is also considering selling the operation of the SAR helicopter fleet to a French/American consortium - but that decision has been postponed.
It seems that the consortium would bear the £3bn cost of procuring new helicopters, along with a 25-year contract to operate them - valued at over £6bn. SAR helicopters are currently provided by the RAF, RN and private helicopters through the MCA.
There will now be a 14-week period of consultation on the proposals.
Details from the Maritime Journal below.