September will see the closure of MRCC Portland, the Maritime and Coastguard Authority has confirmed

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has set a date for the closure of its Portland Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC).

Coastguard operations from Portland will stop on 15 September, with all duties set to be transferred to the National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) in Fareham, Hampshire a week later.

However, Keith Oliver, head of maritime operations at the MCA, has reassured local residents that the level of service in Devon and Dorset will not suffer.

“The availability of Coastguard Rescue Teams, lifeboats, and search and rescue helicopters in your areas will be unaffected,” he said.

The NMOC has been set up to cover Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Dorset and Devon, but campaigners have questioned the MCA’s plans.

A spokesman for Coastguard SOS said: “The MCA should hang their heads in shame at the way this has been handled from the very beginning.

“No amount of spin will hide the backpedalling going on to cover up the shortcomings in the closure plan.”

The closure of Portland Coastguard comes despite a petition to save the centre’s helicopter service, which was signed by more than 100,000 local residents and delivered to 10 Downing Street in May.

Three further MRCC closures at Brixham, Swansea and Liverpool are planned before the end of March 2015.