IMPRESSED by the technology and competency of the staff using it, HRH the Prince of Wales said that we should all ‘sleep soundly in our beds’ knowing that the Maritime Coastguard Agency is protecting us.
Prince Charles paid a visit to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s national operations centre in Fareham yesterday.
And Charles, who has been Honorary Commodore of Her Majesty’s Coastguard since 1980, certainly took a keen interest in the centre’s work before unveiling a plaque to mark the building’s official opening.
He said: ‘I am hugely impressed to have seen a little bit of this centre and to have heard something about the work that goes on here.’
Prince Charles was taken on a tour of the centre and met several members of staff, including maritime operations officer Rebecca Nicholls, from Stubbington.
Rebecca, 32, told him about the work that the Coastguard does to monitor ships that have been to Ebola-infected countries.
She said: ‘It was really nice to get recognition for the work we do.’
Prince Charles also met maritime operations officer Ben Hambling, from Port Solent.
Ben told the Prince about the shifts they work and showed him the systems.
Ben, 28, said: ‘He has been the honorary commodore for years so it was a real honour for him to come and give us a visit.’
We can all sleep in our beds more comfortably knowing you are all there.HRH the Prince of Wales
The Prince signed a guest book at the centre and also received a briefing from Sir Alan Massey, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s chief executive.
Sir Massey said: ‘We are all bursting with pride. We have been waiting for today because this is such a fabulous centre with a really great bunch of professionals here who look after safety at sea.’
The centre co-ordinates coastguard rescues around the whole UK and became operational last September.
The Coastguard began to move towards the national centre four years ago. There are 11 operation centres around the UK and the network is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year.
Sir Massey said that the Prince’s visit had ‘set a seal on the transition period.’
He added: ‘He has put a royal seal of approval on it.’
National maritime operations commander HM Coastguard Steven Carson proudly showed the Prince round the centre, which is at Kite’s Croft, in Segensworth.
He said: ‘It was fantastic. To have the honorary commodore visit our new facilities and meet the hardworking staff was absolutely brilliant.’
There are 80 coastguards based at the new centre and once the network is complete there will be 96 there.
Many of the coastguards have transferred for their jobs.
Richard Cockerill, 43, has moved from his post in the Shetland Islands to join the team at the Fareham centre.
The maritime operations officer said he was ‘honoured’ to meet the Prince on his tour.
Richard, who is now living in Bournemouth, said: ‘It was good to show him the work the Coastguard is doing to improve its service.’
Prince Charles’ visit marked the official opening. Addressing the crowd, he said: ‘We can all sleep in our beds more comfortably knowing you are all there or go out on little boats or up mountains knowing that there will be somebody like Coastguard there to rescue us.
‘I want to wish you well, to congratulate you on all the work you do which is of such enormous importance and to recognise the high standards that the Coastguard expects. Nothing can give me more pride than to be associated with the Coastguard.’