Responding to the Government’s statement as to the future of the UK Coastguard Service, Sir Robert Smith MP expressed concern at the reduction in the number of watchmen in the Aberdeen Coastguard Centre from 31 to 23.
He welcomed the decision to listen to concerns and that the station will continue to maintain the two other staff with expertise on the oil and gas industry.
Sir Robert said: “There have been significant improvements to the proposals for Scotland since they were first produced last year and I commend the Government for listening. However, I remain concerned at the reduction in the number of staff at the Aberdeen Coastguard Centre. The station provides essential protection to those who work in the North Sea and those who sail our coastline for pleasure.
“It is essential that the Aberdeen station has the ability to respond effectively to a major offshore emergency and expect the Government to monitor the performance of the newly reconfigured service to ensure that it provides adequate protection.”
The Government announced its plans for the modernisation of the Coastguard following a second consultation on its proposals.
There will now be one ‘Maritime Operating Centre’ in Fareham, (Hampshire) and eight sub-stations, all of which will operate on a 24/7 basis.
The eight sub-stations will be Falmouth, Milford Haven, Holyhead, Belfast, Stornoway, Shetland, Aberdeen and Humber. There will be a backup operational centre in Dover (equipped but not staffed).
The Government had originally launched a consultation in December 2010. Many who responded expressed their concern at the original plans and they were changed with a second consultation ongoing during autumn of this year.
The plans confirmed keep more centres open, all operating for 24 hours, and retain more coastguard jobs. At least one coastguard centre in each of the existing operational ‘pairs’ - where work and local intelligence is already regularly shared - will be retained.