SEA BREEZES OCTOBER 2011 • VOL 85 • NO. 790
In my ‘Message from the Bridge’ in February this year I highlighted the implicit threat to safety at sea from three proposals being considered by the Coalition Government in the UK
These proposals were:
- The cancellation of the contract to provide four Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs) deployed strategically around the UK coast;
- The disbanding of the Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG) – a group of 15 specialist fire and rescue teams around the UK; and
- A substantial reduction in the number of full time coastguard stations around the UK.
All of these proposals impact significantly on the overall quality of maritime services around the UK coastline. I was pleased to read recently, in Nautilus’s excellent Telegraph, that in June their senior officials had met with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) to express concern about these proposals.
There has of course been intensive and widespread opposition to the proposed coastguard cuts and in fairness the government has now reduced the number of coastguard stations facing closure. As I wrote way back in February, however, it will only take one or two serious incidents at sea to expose any reduction in the provision of these essential services as ill thought out, foolhardy and dangerous. At this important point in time, the MCA led by Vice-Admiral Sir Alan Massey and his Director of Maritime Services, Philip Naylor, needs to stiffen its resolve to prevent these proposals becoming reality.
The MCA's vision statement is to be “the best maritime safety organisation in the world, committed to safer lives, safer ships and cleaner seas.” It seems clear to me that the proposed cuts as outlined above, will undermine rather than underpin the delivery of these laudable objectives.
Captain Hamish A C Ross (Editor)