Coastguard staffing at critical levels

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CRITICAL staffing levels in the Coastguard service could impact on sea rescues and the safety of members of the public.

The UK Government has officially announced the closure of Liverpool Coastguard station and eight others.

Liverpool Coastguard co-ordinates emergency response from North Wales to south west Scotland, including Morecambe Bay.

The National Coastguard SOS Campaign group has learned that current staffing levels show that the Coastguard service is 25% understaffed.

Dennis O’Connor for the National Coastguard SOS Campaign group said: “Understaffing at any maritime rescue coordination centre (MRCC) is unacceptable.

“It increases the pressure on watch managers and staff and significantly increases the risk to recreational and commercial coast users.”

Latest reports suggest that the centralised Maritime Operations Centre at Fareham which is planned to take over coordination duties from the existing Coastguard service, is unlikely to be operational before 2015.

Mr O’Connor said: “The safety of those using the UK coastline is going to be compromised as a result of cuts to the budget.”