Displaying items by tag: Bangor
Concerns persist over the future for Northern Ireland’s coastguard service staff - despite the British government backing down from plans to close the Bangor search and rescue centre.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Bregenz House station was given a reprieve under revised proposals to streamline the UK's coastguard network.
However the coastguard workers' union told the Belfast Telegraph that assurances must still be given to preserve "the same level of service”.
Ian Graham of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said: "The numbers they’re quoting in the proposals are not providing this service with enough staff.
"Lives are still at risk with these proposals, there isn’t one UK coastguard I have spoken to that doesn’t disagree with that. We need to keep fighting to safeguard the service. This was a small victory.”
The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.
Black guillemots have been driven out of their long-time homes around Bangor harbour - by hooded crows.
BBC News reports that the crafty crows have been raiding nesting holes throughout the harbour, and have almost eliminated this year's brood of guillemots - affectionately known as 'black penguins'.
"Often there's been the odd egg or chick which has disappeared but this year it's been extraordinary,' said black guillemot expert Dr Julian Greenwood. "It's been a virtual wipe-out."
Dr Greenwood plans to thwart the crows next year by fixing small pieces of plywood across the openings of nesting holes, keeping the predators out.
BBC News has more on the story HERE.
The decision to keep open Northern Ireland's only dedicated search and rescue base is a victory for people power, says the Belfast Telegraph.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the station at Bangor was saved from closure following a review of plans to streamline the UK's coastguard network.
In an editorial on Friday, the paper said: "Northern Ireland really is a place apart geographically and no-one was convinced that the waters around our coastline from Lough Foyle to Strangford and the inland waterways of Lough Neagh and Lough Erne could be safely monitored by what amounted to remote control if Belfast Coastguard was closed."
The preservation of the service at Bangor is also "a victory for common sense".
The paper added: "From now on every person plucked from the sea or the loughs will utter a heartfelt thanks to those who fought to keep the service locally-based and they will also praise Transport Minister Phillip Hammond for sparing it from closure."
Belfast Coastguard received the initial call from a concerned member of public who had observed a young girl standing on an outcrop of rocks and in distress.
Immediately on receiving this call, Belfast Coastguard requested RNLI Bangor Lifeboat to launch and proceed with utmost haste to Cove Bay which is on the southern shores of Belfast Lough.
Within minutes of the rescue pagers being activated, volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew had assembled and launched the lifeboat.
Upon arrival at Cove Bay, lifeboat crew quickly evaluated the situation. With waves breaking around the knees of the frightened child it was paramount that she be brought ashore as quickly as possible.
The lifeboat was manoeuvred close to the rock ledge and the child was plucked to safety.
The young girl was brought ashore at Groomsport Harbour and was given into the care of waiting paramedics
Dr Iain Dobie a, RNLI volunteer crewman involved in this rescue said 'Large swells created by passing fast ferries and large boats could have swept this young girl from the rocks. When exploring rock pools and the foreshore please take a minute and think about rising tides and large swells'. He added 'We're very happy that the young girl is now safely ashore'
Search and rescue operations from Northern Ireland's only dedicated coastguard centre are on the increase, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
The latest figures show that there were 50 per cent more callouts to the Bangor-based centre last year than in 2006.
Shipping Minister Mike Penning - who is behind controversial plans to streamline the UK's coastguard network, which could see Bangor either closed or reduced to daylight operation - also confirmed that more than a third of callouts were made at night.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the final decision on the coastguard proposals will be taken by 19 July.
On Wednesday 22nd June at 8.20pm Belfast Coastguard received information that an 18ft speedboat with 2 persons aboard had struck rocks close to Groomsport. Volunteer crew quickly assembled and launched RNLI Bangor Lifeboat which proceeded at full speed to the stricken vessel. Thankfully the two people onboard the stranded vessel were able to scramble safely ashore before the Lifeboat arrived on scene. Crew aboard the Lifeboat rigged a tow line and towed the speedboat to the safety of Groomsport Harbour.
On Saturday 25th June at 1.15pm volunteer RNLI crew were alerted by rescue pager that a 35ft yacht with 3 people onboard had lost all steering and required assistance. Belfast Coastguard gave the vessels location as 2½ nautical miles north east of Bangor Harbour. Bangor Lifeboat was launched and escorted the sailing vessel close to entrance of Bangor Harbour were a tow line was rigged. The yacht was then towed to the safety of Bangor Marina.
Kyle Marshall, senior RNLI volunteer helmsman at Bangor Lifeboat Station took this opportunity to stress five very important sea safety tips for anyone going afloat. He said. 'Always wear a lifejacket, secondly check your engine and fuel, thirdly tell others where you are going, fourthly carry some means of calling for help and final always check the weather and tides' He added 'We're happy that the crews aboard both vessels are now safely ashore'.
The final decision on plans to streamline the UK's network of coastguard centres will be taken next month, the News Letter reports.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the station at Bangor - Northern Ireland's only 24-hour search and rescue co-ordination centre - is at risk of closure under the proposed cuts.
Shipping Minister Mike Penning says the decision will be announced on 19 July, following the report of the Commons Transport Select Committee next week, after which a second consultation period will begin.
He reportedly told a Westminster debate last week that "no change is not an option".
Northern Ireland MPs voiced their opposition at the debate to any reduction of service at Bangor, with David Simpson of Upper Bann saying that it "would have a significant effect on the levels of service and rescue".
The News Letter has more on the story HERE.
Belfast Coastguard received the initial call for help from crew onboard the 40ft vessel which had experienced engine failure and was dragging its anchor in high winds.
Within minutes of the rescue pagers being activated, volunteer crew had launched Bangor Lifeboat and were proceeding at full speed towards the disabled vessel.
The stricken craft was located 1 mile south of Black Head lighthouse.
With winds gusting up to 40 mph and on scene weather conditions being described as rough a volunteer RNLI crewman boarded the leisure fishing vessel and assisted in rigging a tow line.
The vessel was then taken under tow to the safety of Carrickfergus Harbour.
RNLI volunteer helmsman Peter Scott who was involved in this rescue said 'Breaking seas and high winds made this a demanding rescue. We always urge everyone going afloat to make sure their engine and fuel systems and are well maintained and in good working order. Engine failure close to shore could lead to a life threatening situation'. He added
'We're happy that everyone that was on board the boat is now safely ashore'.
The UK Shipping Minister has hit out at claims that Northern Ireland coastguards were barred from speaking to the Commons committee looking into plans to streamline the British coastguard network.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, Minister Mike Penning maintained he had "not gagged anybody" when questioned over his forbidding officers from a number of coastguard stations - including Bangor - from giving testimony to the transport committee.
The minister explained his decision on the basis that coastguards are civil servants and that "a civil servant's job is to support the government of the day".
He also indicated to the inquiry panel that he was working towards keeping open 10 stations instead of the eight listed in the original plans, under which Bangor would either be downgraded to a daytime station or closed outright.
The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.
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.