Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Dangerous staffing levels at Falmouth Coastguard need to be addressed

Latest figures reveal understaffing at Falmouth Coastguard station is at dangerous levels, a pattern throughout the UK. Despite MCA risk assesments on the safe number of staff per Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Center these are not being met, 10.8% of shifts in Falmouth in 2013 were below risk assessed level. With more MRCCs due to close, the government needs to rethink it's approach to maritime safety and realise that the desire to do more with less must take account of safe working levels and adequate Coastguard officers to co-ordinate rescues.

The figures have been released by the erstwhile campaigners Coastguard SOS and picked up by the SNP: Westminster coastguard cuts out lives at risk. A few years ago when I first started blogging, I wrote a number of posts about the government's cavalier attitude to maritime safety and criticised their attempts to dress up cuts as 'reforms'. The reason I stopped blogging was that I thought that Falmouth MRCC was now safe from 24 hour closure and Westminster had realised that it was a vital center not just for Cornwall but the North Atlantic and a much wider area. How wrong I was, I should have kept a closer eye on developments.


As you can see Falmouth is by no means the worst off, but this is no reason for complacency. The FOI to the MCA reveals that in 2013 only September had staffing levels above safe risk assessed levels. January had 16.1% of shifts below safe levels, Febuary 23.2%, March 21.0%, April 3.3%, May 11.3%, June 20.0%, July 3.2%, August 4.8%, September 0.0%, October 8.1%, November 5.0%, December 4.8%. But we shouldn't merely concern ourselves with our local area, fishermen from Cornwall sail great distances in search of fish and require coverage there. Besides which as much as I deeply care about Cornwall and the Cornish coastline the thought of mariners being at risk due to government stupidity here or anywhere else troubles me.