It is reported that the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency is undergoing a massive upheaval to help it cope with the demands of the 21st Century.
Between September 2014 and December 2015, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCC’s) at Solent, Portland, and Brixham are due to close. Additionally, the sites at Liverpool, Swansea and Thames will become Coastal Operations Bases, but will no longer have a search and rescue coordination function.
The remaining nine MRCC’s wills be upgraded to Coastguard Operations Centres (CGOC’s) and, together with a desk at the London Port Authority, will be networked through the new National Maritime Operations Centre at Fareham to create a fully resilient national command and control network.
The Maritime & Coastguard Agency volunteer Coastguard Rescue Service will have better access to training and support. The number of regular Coastguard Officers providing front line operational leadership to the CRS will increase by 50% to 96. From April 2015 the Agency will be taking on additional Search and Rescue Helicopter responsibilities. Helicopter search and rescue capacity will change from the current mixture of military and civilian arrangements to a single contract which will operate search and rescue helicopters across the United Kingdom. The Agency will manage this contract which will start in 2015 and will be fully operational across the United Kingdom by summer 2017.
New bases of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency will open at Inverness and Humberside in April 2015; Caernarfon and Manston in July 2015; Cardiff St Athan in October 2015; and Prestwick and Newquay in January 2016. Three existing Coastguard helicopter bases, at Sumburgh, Lee-on-Solent and Stornoway, will transition to the new arrangements in 2017.