The new training centre at Daedalus Airfield in Lee on Solent is scheduled for completion in 2015

Work on the new national Coastguard training centre in Hampshire is underway.

His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent ceremoniously cut the first sod of turf yesterday, to mark the start of work on the new centre at Daedalus Airfield in Lee on Solent.

The purpose built facility will provide Coastguard Rescue Officers with essential training and skills to help them deal with emergency situations on the UK coastline.

Facilities will include an eight metre-high ‘cliff face’ to train teams in how to carry out cliff rescues. This climbing wall will descend four metres into a pit, to enable Coastguards to gain experience of working in enclosed spaces.

The site will also be the new base for the Hill Head Coastguard Rescue Team.

The entire project is set to cost around £2.5million and is scheduled for completion in 2015.

‘An exciting times for MCA’

Sir Alan Massey, chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), said: ‘This modern, innovative training centre will give our Coastguard Rescue Officers the skills they need to respond to any kind of emergency on our coast.

‘These are dedicated, selfless volunteers who are prepared to put themselves out to ensure the safety of others, and they deserve the very best of training and equipment to support them in their tasks.

‘This is an exciting time for the MCA, as we take bold steps to modernise our search and rescue capabilities throughout the UK.

‘We aim to be the best maritime safety organisation in the world, and providing modern, highly effective facilities like the Daedalus training centre is another important step towards realising that vision.’

There are 3,500 Coastguard Rescue Officers in the UK, divided up into 352 teams that are strategically placed around our coastline.

Officers are trained in search and rescue techniques, including mud rescue, water rescue, rope rescue, cliff rescue, coastal searches, assisting helicopter operations and incident prevention.