Coast Gaurd News
A coast guard or coastguard is a national organization responsible for various services at sea. However the term implies widely different responsibilities in different countries, from being a heavily armed military force with customs and security duties to being a volunteer organisation tasked with search and rescue functions and lacking any law enforcement powers.
In the United Kingdom, Her Majesty's Coastguard is purely concerned with search and rescue. It has no role in the maintenance of seamarks which is instead the responsibility of Trinity House, the Northern Lighthouse Board (in Scotland) and the Commissioners of Irish Lights (in Northern Ireland), nor has it any concern with customs enforcement, which is the responsibility of the UK Border Agency. HM Coastguard does not possess its own lifeboats as such but does have several MCA Falcons which are a type of lifeboat that are used in areas that might not necessarily have a lifeboat provided by the volunteer Royal National Lifeboat Institution, although it often wet leases commercial helicopters - mainly Sikorsky S-92s and AgustaWestland AW139s- and tugs to provide search and rescue cover in certain areas. It does, however, maintain a number of search, cliff and mud rescue teams as well as some inshore rescue boats and is a coordinating body and public face for the maritime search and rescue services. It is part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which in itself is an executive agency of the department for transport.
Her Majesty's Coastguard
Her Majesty's Coastguard is the service of the government of the United Kingdom concerned with co-ordinating air-sea rescue.
HM Coastguard is a section of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency responsible for the initiation and co-ordination of all civilian maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) within the UK Maritime Search and Rescue Region. This includes the mobilisation, organisation and tasking of adequate resources to respond to persons either in distress at sea, or to persons at risk of injury or death on the cliffs or shoreline of the United Kingdom. The chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is Sir Alan Massey. Operational control of the service is the responsibility of the Chief Coastguard.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is an executive agency responsible throughout the UK for implementing the Government's maritime safety policy. That includes co-ordinating search and rescue at sea through Her Majesty's Coastguard, checking that ships meet UK and international safety rules and preventing coastal pollution.
Coast Guard Operations
Ships in distress or the public reporting an accident should make a Mayday call on MF radio, marine VHF radio channel 16, or by dialling 999 or 112 on a telephone. The Coastguard continuously monitors all the maritime distress frequencies (including the international VHF distress frequency 156.8 MHz) and has access to Satellite based monitoring systems. The Coastguard then co-ordinates the emergency response. This normally involves requesting the launch of a local RNLI lifeboat (the RNLI being an independent organization), launching an independent lifeboat, deploying a local Coastguard unit, or a search and rescue helicopter. On occasions, the Coastguard has called on warships of the Royal Navy to assist with incidents. Depending on the circumstances of each incident, the Coastguard may also arrange for other emergency services to be deployed to the incident or to meet other units returning from the incident, for example in the case of a medical emergency.
The Coastguard has seven rescue helicopters based around the United Kingdom (at Stornoway Airport, Sumburgh Airport, Lee-on-Solent, Portland). The Coastguard also has use of other Air-Sea Rescue helicopters provided by the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, United States Air Force and the Irish Coast Guard.