Job cuts also planned, as government outlines proposals in consultation document
The government has announced proposals to more than halve the number of Coastguard stations around the coast and leave only three open around the clock.
There are currently 18 Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCC) around the coast and one in London, which monitor the sea, provide information to mariners and co-ordinate rescue efforts in the event of an emergency.
Under government plans, the number of these stations would fall to eight: two nationally networked Maritime Operations Centres in Aberdeen and the Portsmouth/Southampton area and six ‘sub-centres’ dotted around the coast.
Of these, only three will be open around the clock.
Jobs are also set to go. In a consultation document on the proposals, the government said overall Coastguard staffing numbers would fall from 596 to 370 over four years, with those remaining getting better paid jobs.
The cutbacks are all thanks to government demands that the Department for Transport cut its budget by 15% over four years.
Announcing the proposals, shipping minister Mike Penning said: “Like many in the industry, I… recognise that the Coastguard needs urgent modernisation to keep pace with changing demands, changing technologies and our changing economy.
“We know that the change is often difficult, and rarely popular. Maybe that’s why successive governments… have ducked the question of reform. But in doing so they have held back the Coastguard – and that is something we’re not prepared to see happen any longer.”