Skip to main content

Scrapping Coastguard Tugs, is the Government oblivious to maritime safety?

The Anglian Princess taken from
Amidst the large amount of cuts announced during the Conservative/ Liberal Democrat spending review yesterday,there was one great cut that will effect the high seas aound Cornwall, unnoticed by many, save the eagle eyed reporters at BBC Cornwall. (and the MP for Shetland.) Despite the claim in the article that it is a Falmouth tug, the Anglian Princess has become something of a landmark in Mount's Bay it's usual station.

The vessel is classed as an Emergency Tow Vessel, designed for the towing of stricken vessels in the Western Approaches and Channel but it also has a firefighting capability, (in conjunction with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service.) The Anglian Princess is one of four HM Coastguard ETVs that stand ready to assist vessels in distress. The Cornish based vessel has an important job, the seas around Cornwall are very busy with shipping coming to and from the UK and Ireland as well the continental ports of the Channel. The reason that the ETV system was introduced was threefold, to prevent loss of life at sea that could be avoided, to prevent loss of shipping and cargoes and to try to avoid environmental disasters, e.g. Torrey Canyon.

The service record of the Anglian Princess is long and eventful, the most notable being the assistance given to the Napoli -and along with the French ETV Abeille Bourbon- the eventual beaching of that vessel in Devon, follow this link for more of the story and some great pictures like this:

There follows a long list of vessels that the Anglian Princess has aided:

Sabre of Newquay 14/3/2004 fishing vessel overdue in Newlyn, assisted in search, link.
Sea Fox 11/1/2004 fire in engine room, off Land's End, towed into Falmouth, link.
Galina 3/11/2005 vessel drifting off Dodman Point, towed into Falmouth, link.
Goliath 8/3/2006 tow parted from barge, towed to Mount's Bay, link.
Spar Garnet 7/12/2006 disabled in heavy seas off Berry Head, towed to Torbay, link.
MV Petra 13/12/2006 navigation problem off Land's End, towed to Falmouth, link.
RFA Largs Bay 6/5/2007 vessel lost ability to steer off Eddystone Rock, escorted to Plymouth, link.
Antigoni 23/11/2009 gas tanker suffering machinery failure off Lizard Point, tasked to assist, link.
Oscar Wilde 4/2/2010 fire aboard passenger ferry, sent to assist, link.
Swanland 20/8/2010 engine failure off Lizard Point, towed to Famouth, link.

(It must also be noted that in nearly all of these cases the brave men of the RNLI's lifeboats have also played their parts.In addition to the equally brave Search and Rescue 771 Squadron from RNAS Culdrose)

I am sure this is not an exhaustive list of missions by the Anglian Princess but it gives a great idea over the number of incidents that happen around our coast and the number of tragedys that have been potentially avoided, in terms of lives, cargoes and pollution. It is dreadful to ponder what could possibly happen without this vital service. I am completely at a loss how this government plans to protect shipping, ferries and fishermen at sea. I have no doubt that the cost of the Anglian Princess and her sister ships throughout the UK is high, but so are the risks...


There seems to be somewhat more of a stir in Scotland than Cornwall about this with Charles Kennedy MP and John Farquhar Munro MSP both Liberal Democrat, calling on the government to rethink the scrapping of the Coastguard tugs. Also has some details of the Anglian Princesses twin the Anglian Prince's missions.

Further BBC Cornwall have updated their story with a statement from the MCA:
"The government believes state provision of emergency towing vessels does not represent a correct use of taxpayers' money, and that ship salvage should be a commercial matter between a ship's operator and the salvor."
Although it appears as a fair point, it does not seem to take into account the fact that once a vessel is adrift at sea that time is of the essence. The time between a vessel being in trouble and smashing against the shore could potentially be very short. Therefore it seems in the interests of saving money the government is gambling that either: a tanker filled with oil or a passenger ship would not immediate assistance. And if so that a private company could fill this need very quickly.

It also lists the potential savings apparently 32.5 million over four years, (if all four of the rescue tugs are scrapped). Whether an environmental disaster -from an oil tanker for example- anywhere around the UK would cost more than this is anyones guess. Not to mention the untangible costs of the potential loss of life. I greatly fear that if there was a disaster off Cornwall or Scotland or South East England the government would regret this saving. The second BBC story.

Popular posts from this blog

Cornwall LEP announces public consultations (at last)

So here we are 12 months and 17 days since the LEP bid was announced as successful by the coalition government and the LEP has announced public consultations. Only a day after I blogged criticising the LEP for a lack of discernible action such as consultations. So I was pleased to read of the roadshows being announced on the Business Cornwall newsite, as much as I have criticisms of the LEP particularly their lack of action, I do believe people should turn up listen to what they have to say and give feedback, criticisms and forward their own ideas (list of venues copied below). As much as the MK member in me wants to make party political points about the coalition and their poor economic record in Cornwall, we need the LEP to work for the sake of the Cornish economy and it is imperative upon both the businesses of Cornwall and the public to engage with the LEP and influence it. In particular here the public, despite being funded by taxpayers we have had no say in who should be on the…

A breath of fresh air at Penzance Town Council

The election has certainly rung a great many changes at Penzance Town Council. There are now 12 brand new councillors (although Simon Reed has been on the council before). Between retirements and not getting re-elected not a single mayor that served between 2013-2017 is now on the council and only 1 that served as deputy mayor in that time are still on the council. A number of former mayors, deputy mayors and chairs and vice chairs of committees are also no longer with the council. Or to put it another way many of the active town councillors that formed the approach and policies of the town council in the past are no longer there pulling the strings.

When I was first elected back in 2013 there was a feeling that (long overdue) change had been brought to the council, that those new people elected had brought change. That was the feeling with 8 new councillors elected and 12 of the existing councillors being re-elected. This time around there are 12 new councillors and only 8 from befo…

Meeting with Premier Inn about proposed Branwell's Mill development

As many of you will have read online and in the local papers. Premier Inn are interested in setting up a hotel in Branwell's Mill in Penzance. Last night members of the Town Council were invited to a presentation by the agents from the hotel chain in St John's Hall. The Town Council rightly has a clear position that it is neutral on this development. Due to Code of Conduct rules and particularly Section 25 of the Localism Act, councillors must not enter debates with a closed mind. Or to put in plain terms the council and councillors can not be seen to have made a decision before the meeting and before they see the facts before them of that meeting. As with any planning application in the parish of Penzance it will be reviewed, debated and voted on by Penzance Town Council  Added to the fact that I've seen a presentation for the developers but not been able to speak to hear other sides of the story. This post is primarily to inform yourselves of what is happening rather th…