Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has written to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to ask them why they are centralising coastguard services when their own their operational procedures demand that staff have local knowledge of a specific area of the coastline.
Dr Allan pointed out that the Coastguard’s Operational procedures state: “It is necessary that all grades of Coastguard Officers on first joining a new station should acquire a thorough local knowledge of all available Declared and Additional SAR facilities, navigational hazards, coastal features, shipping activity and potential SAR problems within the Area”
Dr Allan has asked why, despite this rule, and despite the fact that coastguards are regularly examined on their local knowledge, the MCA are proposing centralising services to such an extent that nobody could possibly have meaningful local knowledge of the entire Scottish coastline.
Alasdair Allan commented: “I have written to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to ask them to explain the apparent contradiction between their operational procedures and their current attempts to centralise services. If we are going to have the whole of Scotland served by a single full-time centre, it is completely unrealistic to expect staff there to have local knowledge of the whole Scottish Coastline and North Atlantic.
“I am deeply concerned by the plans of the MCA to reduce the numbers of maritime operation centres in Scotland to just one-full time and one part-time, something which has clear implications for the staff involved and for maritime safety. Now it appears there are clear contradictions between what the MCA’s own guidelines are asking of Coastguard Officers and their own plans to drastically centralise services.
“I am therefore seeking urgent clarification of this point from the MCA and again urge them to rethink their proposals to cut the number of coastguard stations.”