MCA solent maritime rescue co-ordination
Date filmed: 27 May 2010
Narrator: Minister for Shipping Mike Penning undertook a fact-finding visit to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Solent Rescue and Co-ordination Centre. Britain’s Coastguard Service is kept very busy, as Chief Coastguard Rod Johnson explains.
Rod Johnson, Chief Coastguard: Her Majesty’s Coastguard has an operating area which encompasses all 10,500 miles of the coast of the UK and about a million square miles of ocean - we go from nearly to the Arctic Circle out to mid-Atlantic and then down into much warmer waters. We deal with about 20,000 incidents a year and we’re based at 19 sites that look pretty much like this one. We deal with absolutely everything from sinking ships, fires and oil spills to lost children and dogs that get out of their depth - we deal with everything.
Mike Penning, Minister for Shipping: Well it’s massively important and for people that live on the coast they do think of them with the other three emergency services. Their role, whether it be cliff rescues or sea rescues, or actually moving inland as well these days, is vitally important. That’s what I was telling the people here today - how much we appreciate the service they do to the community.
Rod Johnson, Chief Coastguard: This station is open 24 hours a day. We’re in touch with a mariner; if they alert us to a distress then we will plot the position of that, devise a plan and allocate search units to it - they could be lifeboats from the RNLI, our own helicopter or our own brigade of coastguard rescue officers. So the helicopter you’ve seen today is an Augusta Westland 139. It’s equipped to deal with the kind of rapid fire incidents that we get down here. It’s very quick - 165 knots in still air - it can take up to eight people, has a dedicated crew of four and it’s fitted with the last word in sensors and avionics. So it’s a very capable, very modern machine.
Mike Penning, Minister for Shipping: And this was a fantastic helicopter. I mean, the stability in the air, you can tell how safe it was. Now all helicopters, they tell me, are safe but when you fly in them you know the difference, and actually this was a fantastic helicopter and a great crew.
Rod Johnson, Chief Coastguard: We are very highly regarded on the world stage. We operate at a very high standard. I’m constantly being asked to facilitate training opportunities from other countries. Our procedures have been adopted lock, stock and barrel by other countries. So we are a world leader at this.
Mike Penning, Minister for Shipping: Their dedication is fantastic. We should be very proud of them.