Maritime and Coastguard Agency warn sea users in advance of planned strike

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is reminding boat users to look very carefully at their plans in advance of a strike called by the Public and Commercial Services Union which will affect Coastguard Stations around the UK next week  (8th – 9th March, 2010).

Contingency arrangements are in place to ensure that the MCA will continue to provide an Emergency service. The industrial action is by those responsible for co-ordinating rescues. The rescuers themselves will continue to operate as normal.

The Agency is therefore reminding the public to take extra care whilst on the sea, beach or cliffs.

The MCA is particularly urging the boating public to think carefully about their plans and to make sure they are aware of standard safety advice before considering going afloat next week.

Boat users are strongly reminded that:

–          A suitable up to date marine weather forecast should be obtained before putting to sea

–          Forecasts can be obtained from: or

– Skippers should make sure that everyone on board has a lifejacket and is wearing it

– A fixed or handheld radio should be taken. Mobile phone coverage at sea is far too unpredictable

– Suitable in-date flares should be carried

– Warm clothing should be stowed in the event of a lengthy breakdown

– A torch and spare batteries are absolutely essential. They can be used to guide a rescue helicopter or lifeboat towards you

– An on-shore contact should be identified and a passage plan worked out in advance to ensure no one is left worrying about potential late arrivals

MCA Chief Executive, Peter Cardy, said;
“Early next week our normal service will be affected by industrial action. Plans are in place to provide cover, but I am encouraging everybody working or playing on the sea or on the beach to take extra care, and to take heed of our safety advice.

“The Agency is absolutely committed to maintaining the safety of life at sea. Detailed contingency plans will be in place and although our services will be more limited than usual, the public should know that distress calls will be answered as normal.”

The MCA are also reminding sea users to not only watch out for themselves, but for others too.

Peter Cardy added:

“The message is still the same – if you see something that you believe is dangerous or putting peoples lives at risk, don’t delay. Use the distress VHF Channel 16, or if near a shoreline, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard making sure you know your own position.

“Sea users should also be aware that this industrial action is by those responsible for co-ordinating rescues. The rescuers themselves will continue to operate as normal.”

The following services remain unaffected:

– Helicopters will continue to fly

– RNLI lifeboats and lifeguards are available as usual

– MCA Volunteer Coastguard Rescue Officers are ready in their local communities

– As usual when out at sea, other ships and craft will assist others in distress

– Our emergency tugs and pollution control experts will respond to any shipping incidents that threaten the environment