Emergency service is not affected

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is reminding holiday makers and boat users to look very carefully at their plans in advance of a strike called by the Public and Commercial Services Union which will affect Coastguard Stations around the UK this Bank Holiday weekend (23-25 August).

Contingency arrangements are in place to ensure that the MCA will continue to provide an emergency service. The industrial action is by those responsible for co-ordinating rescues. The rescuers themselves will continue to operate as normal.

The MCA is urging the boating public to think carefully about their plans and to make sure they are aware of standard safety advice before considering going afloat this weekend.

Boat users are strongly reminded that:
– A suitable up to date marine weather forecast should be obtained before putting to sea
– Forecasts can be obtained from:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/uk_forecast_weather.html or
– Weather forecasting links are also now being carried on the front page of the MCA web site

– Skippers should make sure that everyone on board has lifejacket and is wearing it

– A fixed or handheld radio should be taken. Mobile phone coverage at
sea is far too unpredictable

– Suitable in-date flares should be carried

– Warm clothing should be stowed in the event of a lengthy breakdown

– A torch and spare batteries are absolutely essential. They can be used to guide a rescue helicopter or lifeboat towards you

– An on-shore contact should be identified and a passage plan worked out in advance to ensure no one is left worrying about potential late arrivals

MCA Chief Executive, Peter Cardy, said

The Agency is absolutely committed to maintaining the safety of life at sea. Detailed contingency plans will be in place and although our services will be more limited than usual, but the public should know that distress calls will be answered as normal.

The MCA are also reminding sea users to not only watch out for themselves, but for others too.

Peter Cardy added:

The message is still the same – if you see something that you believe is dangerous or putting peoples lives at risk, dont delay. Use the distress VHF Channel 16, or if near a shoreline, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard making sure you know your own position.

The following services remain unaffected:

– Helicopters will continue to fly

– RNLI lifeboats and lifeguards are available as usual

– MCA Volunteer Coastguard Rescue Officers are ready in their local communities

– As usual when out at sea, other ships and craft will assist others in distress

– Emergency tugs and pollution control experts will respond to any shipping incidents that threaten the environment