His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent cut the first sod of turf for the new centre at Daedalus Airfield in Lee on Solent.
The purpose built facility will provide Coastguard Rescue Officers with essential training and skills to help them deal with emergency situations on the UK coastline.
Facilities will include an 8 metre-high ‘cliff face’ to train teams in how to carry out cliff rescues. This climbing wall will descend 4 metres into a pit, to enable Coastguards to gain experience of working in enclosed spaces. The site will also be the new base for the Hill Head Coastguard Rescue Team.
The entire project is set to cost around £2.5million and is scheduled for completion in 2015.
Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said:
This modern, innovative training centre will give our Coastguard Rescue Officers the skills they need to respond to any kind of emergency on our coast. These are dedicated, selfless volunteers who are prepared to put themselves out to ensure the safety of others, and they deserve the very best of training and equipment to support them in their tasks.
This is an exciting time for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, as we take bold steps to modernise our search and rescue capabilities throughout the UK. We aim to be the best maritime safety organisation in the world, and providing modern, highly effective facilities like the Daedalus training centre is another important step towards realising that vision.