Less coastguard stations results in staff ‘light on experience’

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THE reduction in the number of coastguard stations has resulted in the service having some staff ‘clearly light on experience’, Britain’s coastguard boss has told MPs.

Seven of the country’s 19 coastguard stations have been shut in recent months, with one more due to close this week and another in June.

With some staff reluctant to move to new centres, the service has been able to retain only 57% of its more-experienced staff, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) chief executive Sir Alan Massey told the House of Commons Transport Committee.

He went on: ‘It means 43% of the staff are clearly light on experience.’

The committee’s chairman Louise Ellman said the committee had had reports of concerns about the service and she also raised the matter of the power outage which affected communications at the coastguard’s main headquarters in Fareham last month.

Mrs Ellman told Sir Alan that in the written evidence to the committee from the MCA, the agency had said everything was going well.

She asked if, given what the committee had heard, Sir Alan was being ‘rather complacent.’

He replied: ‘Complacent is the last thing we are. I am very pleased with our progress. Things are not without risk. There are always some people who are not happy.’

Sir Alan said the power outage - on February 8 - had lasted for one hour 47 minutes during which there were three coastguard incidents ‘all of which were dealt with satisfactorily’.