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Union leaders and seafarers have spoken out over the proposed closure of coastguard stations across the UK as a parliamentary committee begins its inquiry into the cutbacks.
Northern Ireland's only full-time search and rescue centre at Bangor is one of 11 stations under threat of closure under plans spearheaded by Shipping Minister Mike Penning to streamline Britain's coastguard network down to just seven bases.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, officials from mariners' union Nautilus International told MPs at the Commons Transport Select Committee that there should be an "absolute minimum" of 11 stations across the UK, lest there be "grave consequences for safety in UK waters".
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to rethink the proposed reforms if they pose any threat to safety at sea. The Labour Party has already branded them as "ill-thought-out madness".
The public consultation on the proposed changes is set to close on 5 May.

Union leaders and seafarers have spoken out over the proposed closure of coastguard stations across the UK as a parliamentary committee begins its inquiry into the cutbacks.

Northern Ireland's only full-time search and rescue centre at Bangor is one of 11 stations under threat of closure under plans spearheaded by Shipping Minister Mike Penning to streamline Britain's coastguard network down to just seven bases.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, officials from mariners' union Nautilus International told MPs at the Commons Transport Select Committee that there should be an "absolute minimum" of 11 stations across the UK, lest there be "grave consequences for safety in UK waters".

British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to rethink the proposed reforms if they pose any threat to safety at sea. The Labour Party has already branded them as "ill-thought-out madness".

The public consultation on the proposed changes is set to close on 5 May.

Published in Coastguard
Over 160 people attended the free sea safety evening held  in Bangor, Co. Down on Tuesday night. Life raft and life jacket demonstrations along with video and slide presentations made for a fun evening with a serious message.

With a vision to end preventable loss of life at sea the Royal National Lifeboat Institution are proactively engaged in delivering clear straight forward safety advice to everyone going afloat.

RNLI Volunteer Peter Bullick along with his team of presenters delivered a thought provoking sea safety message which enthralled as well as entertained all those who attended. The main message of the evening highlighted six safety tips for anyone going afloat. The RNLI use the phrase IT'S WET to help you remember this important advice.

I – Inform, Tell others where you're going.
T – Training, Knowledge of your activity is essential.
S – SOS Device, Carry a meanings of calling for help.
W – Wear a lifejacket, A life statement, not a fashion one – wear it.
E – Engine and fuel check, Have you sufficient fuel and spares?
T – Tide and weather, Check the conditions before heading out.

The RNLI's free sea safety check is offered to all boat owners.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under
Ireland's free provision of air-sea rescue services to Northern Ireland could be in jeopardy if the Bangor coastguard centre is closed, a DUP MP has warned.
In today's Belfast Telegraph, Strangford's Jim Shannon said that loss of the cross-border relationship would "most certainly end in loss of life".
Shannon reiterated that the Bangor centre is not only responsible for Northern Ireland's coastline but also its inland waterways and loughs, and mountain areas such as the Mournes.
Merseyside MP Bill Esterson is also quoted as warning that his local coastguard staff "don't feel equipped to look after Northern Ireland" if services are consolidated in Liverpool.
Shipping minister Mike Penning gave his assurance that coastguard staff would not be victimised if they submit their views to the open consultation, which has been extended to 5 May.

Ireland's free provision of air-sea rescue services to Northern Ireland could be in jeopardy if the Bangor coastguard centre is closed, a DUP MP has warned.

In today's Belfast Telegraph, Strangford's Jim Shannon said that loss of the cross-border relationship would "most certainly end in loss of life".

Shannon reiterated that the Bangor centre is not only responsible for Northern Ireland's coastline but also its inland waterways and loughs, and mountain areas such as the Mournes.

Merseyside MP Bill Esterson is also quoted as warning that his local coastguard staff "don't feel equipped to look after Northern Ireland" if services are consolidated in Liverpool.

Shipping Minister Mike Penning gave his assurance that coastguard staff would not be victimised if they submit their views to the open consultation, which has been extended to 5 May.

Published in Coastguard
UK Shipping Minister Mike Penning's praise of staff at Northern Ireland's only coastguard station has been described as 'hollow' by a DUP MLA.
Penning had described his meeting with staff at the Bangor coastguard centre, which is threatened with closure under new streamlining plans, as "a breath of fresh air".
But the DUP's Peter Weir told the Community Telegraph that his praise "rings a little hollow as it is the minister who created the problem in the first place".
He added: "“We cannot be allowed to be the only part of the UK to be without this facility, and the Secretary of State should be making it clear to his colleagues that he feels so strongly about this that he considers this a resigning matter."
North Down Mayor John Montgomery (DUP) also complained that neither he nor his councillors were informed of the minister's flying visit, which had been rescheduled after a previous cancellation.
"Is the Shipping Minister running scared of North Down councillors?" he asked.

UK Shipping Minister Mike Penning's praise of staff at Northern Ireland's only coastguard station has been described as 'hollow' by a DUP MLA.

Penning had described his meeting with staff at the Bangor coastguard centre, which is threatened with closure under new streamlining plans, as "a breath of fresh air".

But the DUP's Peter Weir told the Community Telegraph that his praise "rings a little hollow as it is the minister who created the problem in the first place".

He added: "“We cannot be allowed to be the only part of the UK to be without this facility, and the Secretary of State should be making it clear to his colleagues that he feels so strongly about this that he considers this a resigning matter."

North Down Mayor John Montgomery (DUP) also complained that neither he nor his councillors were informed of the minister's flying visit, which had been rescheduled after a previous cancellation.

"Is the Shipping Minister running scared of North Down councillors?" he asked.

Published in Coastguard
A new fisheries protection vessel (FPV) for Northern Ireland was commissioned in a ceremony presided by the fisheries Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA in Bangor Harbour on Thursday, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Banríon Uladh which cost £2.2m (with 50% funding from the EU) has replaced the smaller sized vessel, Ken Vickers, which has been in service since 1992. The new 26-metre craft is based in the Co. Down harbour and is crewed by fisheries officers from Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

The FPV was built by AS Baltic Workboats in Estonia and the 25 knot plus craft has already entered on operational duties as part of the Joint Deployment Plan with the Irish Naval Service to underpin fishery protection arrangements.

Layout of the vessel superstructure consists of the wheelhouse for a crew of three and provisional space for two observers. At the aft end there is a wet laboratory for scientific and data collecting purposes. On the lower deck the vessel can accommodate seven crew members in three twin cabins and a single cabin for the captain. Other facilities are the mess, galley and WC.

An onboard RIB, powered by twin 60hp outboards is located aft in the stern-well. Also located at the stern is a two ton capacity movable hydraulic gantry and a one ton Guerra marine deck crane. To create more deck-space for scientific research operations, the stern-well can be covered over with boards, a similar design feature is found on the Revenue Commissioners two Finish built custom cutters RCC Suirbheir and RCC Faire.

In addition to fishery protection, the craft is designed for seabed mapping, survey equipment technology to inspect inshore mussel resources for the
aquaculture industry and to detect pollutants. The ability to conduct such functions will enable greater assistance and understanding of the marine environment for DARD's science partners at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

The design of the Banrion Uladh is based on Baltic Workboats 24m Baltic 2400 class which has been operating for clients in Estonia, Latvia and Poland. In addition the same class is also to be used as a basis for boats which are under construction for the Swedish Coast Guard.

Published in Fishing
A search for a missing 18 year old boy that was launched after his friends feared he had fallen from Central Pier was stood down at 01.50 this morning after he was found hiding in the crew accommodation of a nearby fishing vessel.

The call came in at 23.40 from a member of the marina staff after the boy's two friends had told him that all three of them had climbed over the gate into the pier, but that their friend had not come back and they were concerned that he must have fallen into the water.

Belfast Coastguard sent the Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team to begin a search, as well as requesting the launch of the Bangor RNLI lifeboat. Members of the Police, Ambulance and Fire Service are also on scene.

At 01.50, the boy was found hiding in a compartment in the crew accommodation of a fishing vessel near the pier, and the search was stood down.

Belfast Coastguard Watch Manager Alan Pritchard said:

"This group of three boys had been at a birthday party in the town before climbing the gate this evening to access the pier.  Incidents such as these remind of us of the dangers of being in proximity to the water when you have been drinking alcohol – be it going swimming, or walking along cliffs or piers.  Although on this occasion the boy has been found safe and well, this could easily have been a much more serious incident."

Published in Coastguard

Bangor Lifeboat launched at 11:40 am on Monday 24th January to rescue two canoeists from a stretch of water lying between the Copeland Island and Donaghadee known locally as the Donaghadee Sound. One of the canoeists had apparently entered the water and was in difficulty.

Belfast Coastguard requested RNLI Bangor Lifeboat to launch.

Within minutes of the rescue pagers being activated, Bangor volunteer crew had assembled and had launched the RNLI's fast response Atlantic 85 type lifeboat the 'Jessie Hillyard '.

With a top speed of 35 knots Bangor Lifeboat quickly arrived on scene.

The Fishery Protection vessel also received the rescue alert and was by minutes the first vessel on the scene. With the Fishery Protection vessel providing a weather lee, crew from Bangor Lifeboat quickly plucked the exhausted canoeist from the water. The second canoeist was then brought aboard Bangor Lifeboat along with both canoes.

Donaghadee Lifeboat who also launched to this rescue stood close by to offer additional medical support if required.

Bangor Lifeboat accompanied by Donaghadee Lifeboat returned to Donaghadee Harbour and both canoeists were landed safely ashore.

Ewan Scott, helmsman onboard Bangor Lifeboat praised the actions of both volunteer crews. He said 'The dedication and commitment of both Bangor and Donaghadee volunteer crews is evident in the professional manner in which they undertook this rescue' He added 'We're happy that both canoeists are now safely ashore.'

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Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

RNLI Bangor Lifeboat launched at 1:20 pm on Monday 17th January to assist 1 person aboard a 21ft crab fishing boat which had experienced gearbox mechanical failure close to shore.

Within minutes of the rescue pagers being activated, volunteer crew had launched RNLI Bangor Lifeboat and quickly located the crab fishing boat close to shore near Ballymacormick Point which is 1 ½ nautical miles north east of Bangor Harbour.

Calm weather conditions had allowed the skipper of the fishing vessel to make emergency repairs to the gearbox.

RNLI Bangor Lifeboat escorted the fishing vessel to the safety of Bangor Harbour and assisted the skipper with docking manoeuvres.

This is the first rescue call for RNLI Bangor Lifeboat in 2011.

Related Safety posts

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Published in RNLI Lifeboats
British Prime Minister has dismissed concerns over the potential loss of Northern Ireland's Coastguard centre.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that when questioned on the future of the Bangor control centre by DUP MP Jim Shannon, David Cameron replied that he understood "the need for good air sea rescue".
“I think what matters is not necessarily who is carrying it out, but are they fully qualified, is it a good service and is it value for money?” he added.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Bangor Coastguard control centre is facing closure under reforms to the service across the UK announced by Shipping Minister Mike Penning.

British Prime Minister has dismissed concerns over the potential loss of Northern Ireland's Coastguard centre.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that when questioned on the future of the Bangor control centre by DUP MP Jim Shannon, David Cameron replied that he understood "the need for good air sea rescue".

“I think what matters is not necessarily who is carrying it out, but are they fully qualified, is it a good service and is it value for money?” he added.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Bangor Coastguard control centre is facing closure under reforms to the service across the UK announced by Shipping Minister Mike Penning.

Published in Coastguard

In a further boost for the fledgling match racing scene here, top Irish international Umpire Bill O'Hara is looking to have the ISAF Grade one women's match racing event held on Belfast Lough from his home port of Bangor from August 17 - 20 2011, straight after the Weymouth pre-Olympic event.

Published in Match Racing
Page 7 of 8

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