by Emma Slater
In its response to Britain's Maritime and Coastguard Agency's (MCA) consultation paper regarding the modernisation of the Coastguard service the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has made it absolutely clear that its principle concern is to ensure that all Coastguard services that are currently delivered, including search and rescue, provision of maritime safety information and VHF voice communication, continue at the same level and indeed are improved.
Coastguard rescue helicopter
'It is quite evident that the consultation has provoked much emotion and even hostility; particularly from communities where Rescue Co-ordination Centres may be located close by.
'However, the proposals seek to improve the co–ordination and management of search and rescue activity in order to address the lack of interoperability between Rescue Co-ordination Centres, the inability to spread the work-load across the system and the fundamental lack of resilience caused by increased demands on the current inadequate structure.
'All of these have implications for the safety of recreational boaters when at sea and the RYA has made it clear that there is a pressing need to address these weaknesses', explained RYA Cruising Manager, Stuart Carruthers.
The RYA’s response makes a number of critical points concerning the changing operational environment and additional pressures that must be fully considered if the quality of the services is to be maintained and improved.
Some of the areas of concern outlined in the RYA response include; lack of clear risk assessment, local knowledge, voice communications, sub-station operability, weather forecasts, amongst others.
The RYA also believes that it is vital that the new system is focused on outcomes and underpinned by flexible procedures that are sufficiently agile to deal with the increasing complexity and pressure of managing the UK’s waters.
'The consultation period has been extended and now closes on 06 May 2011, after which we will await the further response of the MCA', concluded Stuart.
You can read the RYAs response to the MCA Coastguard Modernisation Consultation in full here.
To read the MCA Consultation document on the modernisation of the Coastguard go to the MCA website.