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Displaying items by tag: HM Coastguard

HM Coastguard dealt with 340 individual incidents across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Saturday (8 August), representing its highest number of call-outs in a single day for well over four years.

Packed coastlines and beaches kept coastguard personnel very busy throughout another hot heatwave day, which saw rescue teams attend 221 incidents.

Both the RNLI and independent lifeboats were called out on 155 occasions combined, and aircraft were also used to assist at the coast and sea in 30 incidents.

HM Coastguard responded to 186 emergency calls and co-ordinated search and rescue responses to a wide-range of incidents, which included people being cut off by the tide and children swept out to sea on inflatables.

In total, the service rescued 146 people and assisted a further 371 people.

Saturday’s incident count represents a significant 145% increase when compared to the average amount of call-outs we recorded throughout August 2019.

The count also surpasses its previous (and recent) busiest day over the past few years, on Friday 31 July the previous weekend, when the service co-ordinated 329 incidents.

‘We don’t want you to remember your day out for all the wrong reasons’

HM Coastguard’s head of coastguard operations Richard Hackwell said: “We have seen a big rise in incident numbers this weekend as more people visit coastal areas and head to the beach.

“We understand that people want to have fun at the coast and enjoy the heatwave but we urge everyone to respect the sea and take responsibility in helping to ensure the safety of themselves, friends and family.

“We’re heading into a period of more good weather so we want to remind you to check and double check tide times as even the most experienced swimmer or keen watersports enthusiast can get caught out by currents and tides. Plan your day out, always exercise caution and make sure you have a way of contacting us if you get into trouble.”

He added: “As our latest statistics show, we’ll always respond when someone calls 999 and asks for the coastguard but help us to help you by not making choices which could put yourself and others at risk.

“Every time our frontline teams respond — as they always do and always will — please don't forget that they're also put at risk too. Take extra care at the coast today and over the coming days. We don’t want you to remember your day out for all the wrong reasons.”

Published in Scottish Waters
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Coastguard rescue teams around Great Britain and Northern Ireland were called to nearly 200 incidents over the weekend, to come to the aid of those who found themselves in difficulty in the sea or at the coast.

The 194 incidents included inflatables drifting offshore; crashed and broken down jet skis and pleasure boats; people injured while out walking or cycling along the coast; paddle boarders, kayakers, windsurfers and kite surfers who found themselves in difficulty; and people cut off by the tide or stuck in mud.

There were 84 callouts on Saturday (16 May) and a further 109 on Sunday (17 May), which proved to be the second busiest day of the year so far for HM Coastguard, as significant numbers of people took to the water and visited the coast.

In addition, 119 teams carried out proactive patrols of English beaches, cliffs and marinas to look out for anyone in trouble, offer safety advice where needed and ensure that people are staying safe in the water after the relaxing of some UK government guidelines in England.

‘The sea can still catch you out and can be unmerciful when it does’

The teams also assisted in providing mutual aid on 38 occasions in support of the other emergency services.

Boating, swimming and other sea-based activities are now allowed once again in England under UK government guidelines. In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the lockdown remains and people should continue to follow the guidance to stay home.

HM Coastguard director Claire Hughes said: “In England, now more than ever, people need to respect the sea and the coast. While people are now allowed to go out on and in the water, they need to make sure they are safe and protected and have a way to contact HM Coastguard if they get into difficulty.

“Regardless of how well you know the coast and of your ability in your chosen sport, the sea can still catch you out and can be unmerciful when it does.

“In addition, the government guidelines around social distancing should continue to be observed by everyone in the UK.”

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The number of recorded incidents dealt with by HM Coastguard yesterday has been the highest since the UK was put into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic in late March, the service has warned.

Friday 8 May saw 97 incidents — a 54% increase over the daily average in the previous month — within a single 24-hour period. This coincided with the start of the UK’s early May bank holiday weekend.

“People are ignoring the measures put into place by the [UK] government,” said Matt Leat, duty commander with HM Coastguard.

“I completely understand that the weather and the bank holiday coupled with the fact that we’ve been in this lockdown situation for just over six weeks has tempted people out to our beautiful coasts.

“However, as the government said only yesterday, it’s really vital that we all continue to observe the guidance.”

Leet said that the coastguard would always respond to a 999 or distress call “but the minute we send in a rescue response, we’re putting our frontline responders at risk as well as putting the NHS under avoidable pressure”.

He added: “Please, please continue to observe the #StayHomeSaveLives message — it’s still in place for a reason. Exercise locally and stretch your legs, not our resources.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised today (Sunday 10 May) for changing the coronavirus advice slogan from ‘stay at home’ to the less direct ‘stay alert’. The change has been rejected by the devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Portaferry’s coastguard rescue team was paged yesterday morning (Saturday 7 March) to a report of multiple kayakers capsized in the water off Killyleagh on Strangford Lough.

Portaferry RNLI were also tasked to the incident, recovering four individuals from the water and locating two more on Don O’Neill Island.

Another two were found on Island Taggart, and they were winched to safety by HM Coastguard rescue helicopter R199 based in Prestwick, south of Glasgow in Scotland.

The casualties were then taken to Killyleagh where Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team had set up a landing point.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service also tasked the Air Ambulance NI and Hazard Area Response Team to the scene.

All eight persons were checked over by the doctor and paramedics, with no further treatment needed.

“Well done to all emergency services involved in this incident and a good outcome in the end,” Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team said.

Following the rescue, as BBC News reports, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency issued general advice to kayakers.

“We’d always recommend that kayakers tell someone at home their passage plan including points of arrival and departure, timescale and any other relevant information.

“It would also be advisable to consider advising the coastguard of your intentions and any deviation of your plans.

“You should also carry a VHF marine band radio and/or PLB (personal locator beacon).”

Published in Coastguard

HM Coastguard in the UK was among the agencies joining an international search operation last night (Friday 22 November) after a superyacht sank off Indonesia.

While initially believed to be a UK-registered vessel, it was quickly confirmed that the yacht, named Asia, was a Malaysian-registered sailing vessel with two British citizens among the four people aboard.

Following “extensive investigation work” by HM Coastguard, contact was made with the boat’s skipper at 5am this morning (Saturday 23 November).

He confirmed that the vessel sank after hitting an object in the water some 55 nautical miles off an Indonesian island, but all four crew had managed to get in board its RIB tender and were met by marine police at the nearest landfall.

“We are relieved to hear that the crew are now safely ashore,” said HM Coastguard Controller David Jones, who was in charge of co-ordinating efforts overnight.

“This incident demonstrated good international working between the UK Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, JRCC Australia, JRCC Jakarta, USA Mission Control Centre and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”

Published in Rescue

HM Coastguard rescue teams from Lerwick, Hillswick and Sumburgh, the search and rescue helicopter crew from Sumburgh and staff from the Coastguard Operations Centre in Shetland have been awarded the prestigious UK Department for Transport Rescue Shield by Brian Johnson, chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), for a dramatic cliff rescue 18 months ago.

The DfT Rescue Shield is the highest national accolade in the United Kingdom awarded to coastguard teams which have performed the most outstanding rescue of the year. The presentation last Tuesday 5 November marks the sixth time that Shetland-based teams have been awarded the shield.

On the evening of 9 May 2018, a teenager was trapped at the base of a 120ft cliff for two hours with the tide coming in, in Fethaland, Shetland, after attempting to scale it.

The rescue was challenging and its success was due to the professionalism and teamwork of all involved in a rescue co-ordinated by HM Coastguard.

Coastguard rescue teams navigated difficult terrain in appalling conditions on the narrow headland, setting up cliff rescue equipment before one of the team descended the cliff, enduring storm force winds, rain and heavy squalls from the incoming tide to safely recover the casualty to the top of the cliff.

“As emergency response teams we rely heavily on each other to achieve success and this case was a prime example of that,” said Dave Sweeney, senior coastal operations officer.

“It was a challenging rescue and we needed all our teams’ shared expertise and resources to safely rescue the man. It was teamwork at its best.

“We are honoured to be awarded for our efforts on this particular rescue and it’s a mark of recognition for all the work and dedication of the front line volunteers, paid crew members and behind the scenes teams that help us all save lives together.”

Published in Coastguard

Coleraine Coastguard is back in business after a reported burglary at its station during Storm Gareth on Tuesday night (12 March).

Volunteers woke yesterday morning (Wednesday 13 March) to find that their station “had been broken into and ransacked”.

The North Coast station was taken offline while the PSNI completely investigations and volunteers could determine that its equipment was safe to use.

Volunteers were given the all-clear by 4.30pm yesterday to resume their rescue services.

And they have appealed for anyone with information about the burglary — one of a spate of incidents throughout the town on Tuesday night — to contact the PSNI.

Published in Coastguard

#Hoax - The UK coastguard has decried an “elaborate hoax” after lifeboats and a coastguard helicopter were launched after several calls from someone claiming to be a kayaker in difficulty off the Co Down coast.

As BBC News reports, lifeboats from Bangor and Donaghadee RNLI respectively joined a rescue helicopter from HM Coastguard in Scotland in the search off the Copeland Islands yesterday (Sunday 2 April) that was declared a hoax after a thorough search of the area.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Two Coastguard Rescue Teams carried out a difficult and complex rescue in a Force 9 gale, after a climber became cragfast on cliffs at Fairhead, near Ballycastle, Northern Ireland.

At about 11.30pm yesterday (Tuesday 28 September) the UK Coastguard received a report from a local Coastguard Rescue Team member that a climber needed rescuing after becoming cragfast whilst climbing the cliff.

Ballycastle and Coleraine Coastguard Rescue Teams and Redbay RNLI All Weather Lifeboat were sent to the scene along with the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Prestwick. The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service was also informed of the incident.

Daniel McAuley, Station Officer for Ballycastle Coastguard Rescue Team said: ‘The two climbers had started climbing the cliff at around 5.00pm and when the winds started to pick up, the position of the ropes they were using for support moved. Luckily, one of the climbers managed to get the top and raise the alarm at a local farmhouse nearby. The occupants of the farmhouse quickly alerted one of the local Coastguard team members who called the job into the Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre.

‘A combination of working in darkness, the instability of the cliff edge and the 44 knot winds meant that we had to set up thirty metres away from the edge of the cliff to make sure the equipment was secure. We were very grateful to the Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre for co-ordinating the response and for the Coastguard helicopter and the RNLI lifeboat, who shone their lights on the climber and our operations so we could work safely. Without their vital support, our jobs would have been made all the more difficult. This is a great example of how these teams worked brilliantly together under challenging circumstances to rescue the climber. Thankfully, he did not require any medical attention or treatment after being rescued.’

'The climbers did the right thing by calling the Coastguard as soon as they got into difficulty. Unfortunately, they just got caught out by the change in the wind conditions - we're just glad they're safe and well now.'

Published in Coastguard
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Plans to make sure there is a full maritime survey and inspection team covering the whole UK, will see more remote working and a slight change to where some of the marine offices are based.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency has undertaken a review of the way it carries out its surveys and inspections and recently consulted on the locations of its marine offices. It has also, with its staff, reviewed the way the organisation of those offices is structured.

As a result of both consultations, changes have been made to the original proposals including keeping two offices open that were originally marked for closure and identifying a senior experienced marine surveyor who will have over-arching responsibility for the River Thames.

The proposals save more than a third of a million pounds in terms of estate costs.

Belfast, Liverpool, Cardiff Aberdeen, Plymouth, Southampton, Beverley (Hull) and Glasgow Marine Offices will remain open and a new office will be opened in the Colchester/Ipswich area. These will form the main Marine Office hubs.

Dover, Falmouth and Milford Haven will be satellite bases attached to the main marine office hubs from where they will be managed – Southampton, Plymouth and Cardiff respectively.

The Tyne office will close along with Harwich, Norwich and Orpington.

These changes are part of a much larger transformation programme for its survey and inspection business to improve customer service and efficiency. The proposals, which have been approved by the Executive Board of the MCA, will save money with minimal impact on the MCA survey and inspection work force.

Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive said: ‘This programme marks an exciting moment for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The MCA’s marine surveyors are a vital part of our business and have built an outstanding reputation for their technical skills and professionalism. Yet the maritime world is changing, and we have to move with the times.

‘For example, we’ve had great difficulty in recruiting and retaining marine surveyors; and our customers are also - and rightly - demanding more responsive services that are fit for a competitive world market in the digital age. We need to address those things squarely. Modernising our approach, in terms of both the geographical location of our offices and the way our surveyors work, offers us a positive, efficient way forward.

‘We have consulted widely with our staff and external customers in coming to these decisions. The MCA is and remains committed to the highest standards in upholding maritime safety throughout our areas of responsibility: UK-wide and indeed globally. This transformation programme will greatly help us to achieve that.’

Katy Ware, Director of Maritime Safety and Standards and overseeing the plans for the Survey and Inspection Transformation Programme, said: ‘We understand that people might be worried about the future but we have assured both our surveyors and staff that we will continue to work with them as the change programme moves forward. People matter in this Agency and we are committed to making sure we continue to act with that in mind.’

‘We will work with all those staff affected on an individual basis on their transition plans as we will now be carrying on the work with those involved as we work towards implementing this new plan.’

‘I am mindful that we face some testing times ahead. However with the support of our diverse and highly experienced workforce I very much look forward to leading the Directorate of Maritime Safety and Standards as it develops to deliver a service that ensures we meet the expectations of our stakeholders and allows staff to develop themselves.’

Published in Coastguard
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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