Minister visits new maritime coordination centre in Fareham

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SHIPPING Minister Stephen Hammond has visited the new Maritime and Coastguard Agency coordination centre.

The Segensworth centre is expected to open in early 2014 and will handle calls from across the country.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency have received criticism for its decision to gradually move to a centralised coordination hub.

Speaking to The News about the centre, Mr Hammond said: ‘It’s putting in a more robust, stronger and more resilient communications network.

‘We have already put in place a period of time where local knowledge is taken on board when one station closes and then it is assimilated by the new station.

‘The ability to coordinate from here and link to other stations around the country is now stronger in terms of communication, which I am absolutely convinced by, but don’t forget, nothing on the ground changes in terms of the coast guards going out to people.

‘This centre is just about communication and I am convinced that the new coordination systems being put in place will enhance not decrease public safety.’

The move will see a loss of eight coast guard coordination stations, know as Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCC), leaving a total of 10. The MRCC in Forth closed last September and Clyde closed in December

The search and rescue helicopter at Portland in Dorset will also be scrapped, although this has been brought about by government changes and not the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

On his visit to the new centre, Mr Hammond met sector managers from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency who are in charge of search and rescue teams across the county.