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For all Coastal Emergencies Dial 999 and ask for the COASTGUARD  

MRCC Stornoway

Your Comments

On this page are some of the many comments that have been posted on our on-line petition or emailed to us throughout the campaign.
The comments appear as they were originally written, with the occasional spelling correction.
We would like to thanks everyone who took the time to sign the petitions or to write to us, your support is very much appreciated.
We have removed the names for those who wrote the comments as these are only for reference. The comments are those of the original writer and not necessarally those of the campaign.

I have looked at the Coastguard map, and compared the distances between stations, for instance along the English Channel (yes, I know a lot of traffic goes through that but there is also a lot of traffic via the north west coast of Scotland too - and the distance across the Channel isn't the distance into the North Atlantic) and rather than close either Stornoway OR Shetland, I would have thought they could have done with another one on the isle of Barra, to 'fill the visible comparison gap'. Yes there are a few more bases on the RNLI station's map, which I also looked at (remembering it is a voluntary/charitable organisation) but the Coastguard fulfils many other things including advice to 'travellers'. If I was one of those 'travellers' I would want someone who is likely to be more familiar with the local area than someone miles away in Belfast or the Shetlands. I know that is important to save money as organisations have to make ends meet, but I think that ultimately it is more important to save lives than money. Surely there must be another way to make a saving than by closing or minimising the usage of this very important base.
My son-in-law flew the Stornoway Coastguard helicopter for five years, and I know from him how important it is to have local people coordinating search and rescue on the west coast. We encounter problems with Ambulance Control in Inverness who sometimes send emergency ambulances to the wrong part of Skye (the name may be similar) because of lack of local knowledge.
There is no strategic rationale behind this move, local knowledge saves lives and the position of Stornoway makes it difficult to replace without endangering lives and shipping. The cost to the environment from a preventable accident will far out-way any spurious savings from consolidating the resource. Shetland is thus equally valuable.
Total Madness to consider closing Stornoway & Shetland With thousands of miles of intricate and complicated coastline it defies logic to even consider contemplating closure of either of the stations in question . The waters of the Minch, Pentland Firth, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides are the cross roads of the world in maritime terms. Are we really paying for those that make such ridiculous decisions
I live near the coast in the south of England and hope to move to the Islands later this year. I am an active sea kayaker and understand the importance of the coastguard and paddle secure in the knowledge that they are there for me if something goes wrong. They are the real fourth emergency service and must be treated as such by the current government. Cost cutting cannot be done at the risk of costing lives
Reduction of any aspect of HM Coastguard cover in the area of The Minch is unwelcome, unwarranted and potentially dangerous. Closure of Stornoway goes even further and is totally unacceptable in an area busy with large commercial shipping, fishing vessels, ferries and the massive amount of yachts. No closure!
Local knowledge is absolutely essential in correctly identifying locations in an area where place names which are gaelic or of gaelic origin can easily be confused. This essential feature can be provided only by Stornoway coastguard.
There are many other areas in which money can be saved but this would be a real danger to life. The recent incidents involving the ditched Tornado etc show how vital it is to retain a full time local presence with the local knowledge thus available together with speedy response.
The events over the last few weeks has all but proved that the Western Isles MUST retain this vital emergency service who do a fantastic job 24 hours a day 365 days a year. The lads and lassies who provide the service in the Western Isles be it in the air or on land are worth more than their weight in gold and any so-called MP's trying to run this country!
Having a friend break her leg two thirds of the way up Sgurr Choinich (Torridon) in winter conditions we were EXTREMELY grateful to Stornoway Coast Guard and the helicopter crew who got her off quickly and efficiently. The planned closures leave big holes in the cover and ability of the remaining locations to offer a comprehensive service.
Centralising the Coastguard stations can only lead to disaster. The local knowledge makes a huge difference, and the technical challenges with centralisation could mean that many incidents will not get the support they would now. I was rescued by the coastguard a couple of years ago, and the local voice made a huge difference.
The government should not forget that we are a maritime nation and the coastguard service should be sacrosanct. Stornoway coastguard must be open day and night as traffic does not stop at night. An accident of a major scale would cost much more than the savings now.
I have a business that takes the public on sea trips in the area covered by Stornoway coastguard, if it was to be reduced or even worse closed my safety and the safety of my passengers would be greatly effected along with all other sea farers, i understand that money has to be saved but the closure would without a doubt cost LIVES, don't let people die for a budget !!
I believe Stornoway Coastguard should be saved as it covers a coastline of disproportionate length and is involved in the routing and support of vessels through some of the UK's most treacherous waters. Furthermore the team in Stornoway are multilingual which is important when dealing with both Gaelic and English place names. I have always found the team in Stornoway to be helpful in providing information to me as we have sailed the Minch.
I am a local sea kayaker and former Coastguard employee. He planned closures will directly affect the safety of recreational seagoers. The local knowledge within existing MRCCs has been responsible for the swift resolution of countless incidents, which otherwise may have turned out less fortunately. When I worked at MRCC Stornoway, the most difficult calls to handle were the ones that came from outside our patch- local knowledge made all the difference. The watches at MRCC and round the country are dedicated, professional and work long, antisocial hours for little pay. What do they give in return? A world-class maritime SAR service that has saved so many lives.
regardless of any financial incentives to do so there is NO substitute for local knowledge. Please give this decision your fullest consideration and listen to the people who currently offer a superb service. My grandson works on one of the fishing boats and I would be horrified to think that such a centre of expertise as the Stornoway coastguard station was going to be closed. If the people who sit in offices making these decisions spent just a day with the people who rely on the current services, they would not dream of axing them.
What evidence exists that operational testing of the proposed new systems for Scotland have taken place. What happens if the new systems fail when operated by only one remaining centre. The importance of local knowledge being retained cannot be overstated and the absence of this knowledge can make the difference in a life or death situation. The Stornoway coastguard station should not have its level of service reduced and should be retained as a 24 hour operation.
Stornoway coastguard have proved their local knowledge to be indispensable when our club had it's only call out of 12 years. I doubt that someone in Aberdeen would have been able to piece together the hypothermic ramblings of a distressed paddler and have worked out where they were on the multi-indented coastline of Skye so quickly without local knowledge. A helicopter saved his life. With all respect to the professionals in Aberdeen, our member may well have died that day.
Taking the public out to sea every day through the summer it is good to know we have back up from our local coast guard if we needed it. The local knowledge of the Stornoway coastguard is such an asset to us and the whole Island which is dependant on the sea for many jobs, tourism and even just travel to main land. We need to know we're safe at Sea by having people with experience and knowledge of where we are not the other side of Scotland.
The government proposals to chop so many coastguard stations is astonishingly short-sighted and distinctly life-threatening. They seem to forget the UK is an island with only one tenuous land link to the Continent. The nation requires as many eyes and ears as possible to watch over our seas and coasts, especially in these years of terrorism events and threats. I feel this is penny-pinching for its own sake. As regards closing either Stornoway or Shetland, where's the local professional backup for 24/7 RNLI & CG Helicopters based there? They MUST keep both stations 24/7 as they cover the largest - and some of the most dangerous in the world - sea areas & coastlines of the UK. now they want to replace professionals with electronics and beefed-up volunteers. Have you told them about the VHF blackspots in your areas, and as for mobile phones...we all can't afford Immersat sets. Having sailed up and down the west coast of Scotland, and beyond, for the last 30-odd years in a number of yachts - the last 20 out of Ullapool - it is ALWAYS reassuring to hear the local CG station on the radio and to know if you are in difficulty, and you need help or rescue, they will know where to find you with their specific local knowledge. Again, we don't all have DSC sets yet. If the worst comes to the worst and they go ahead with their Whitehall madcap schemes, I
It is very distressing that our government in London appears to be so unaware of the geography, climate and nature of the seas around the North of Scotland that it could even dream of such decimation of the Coast Guard service in Scotland. Are the lives of those who earn their living from the sea and of others who are currently served by the Coastguard service of so little importance?
My operation relies on Stornoway Coastguard on an almost daily basis. They are an integral part of our standard operating procedures and safety policy and provide a hugely important and thoroughly professional service to all users of the maritime environment in this geographical area. To reduce or remove this service would be an act of the utmost folly and would lead to loss of life sooner rather than later.
Not much point in having a Day Station - the sea doesn't go to sleep!!! Keep Stornoway - it covers a huge area.
as a fisherman, this governments just putting another nail in our coffin, but this time there really doing it, putting our lives in danger by there insanity.
i have called Stornoway coastguard twice last year for divers suffering from the bends and the response time was amazing i can not consider them not being there
I have actually been in the control room at Stornoway Coastguard as a full scale emergency has been unfolding. As well as the high level of professionalism and skill from the team on duty, what struck me was the value of in-depth LOCAL knowledge and how this can help save lives. In 2010, Stornoway Coastguard undertook 183 operations, the most in a single year since it was established 25 years ago. It will be too late to realise what a mistake closing it will be once environmental damage is done or when lives are lost. The Government may think that they will be making savings but the cost, in reality, could be very high.
I strongly support the retention of Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Co-ordination Station and furthermore that it should remain a 24-hour operations station. I feel the plan to reduce the number of stations around the British Isles is fundamentally flawed and poorly thought out, the emphasis being on saving money rather than saving lives. Stornoway CG cover the busy shipping lanes of the Minch and west of Hebrides, as well as providing essential cover for the NW of Scotland. It is unfeasible that the same level of knowledge and operational excellence could be provided from Aberdeen.
As a frequent sailor and sea kayaker in this area I rely on Stornoway coastguard for vital local knowledge and accurate weather and safety information. With smaller radios, it is often impossible to hear or contact any other stations and they lack the local knowledge I am looking for. Kayakers especially will find their safety compromised in the remoter parts of the Western Isles - an area growing rapidly in popularity with this sport. A reduction in use will impact on a fragile economy just beginning to benefit from more visitors by kayak and yacht. I also value the wildlife of this coastline. The potential for a marine disaster is high with a consequential impact on wildlife, fishing and local communities. There have been close shaves. A 24 hour maritime centre in the Minch both increases the chances of avoiding an accident and is best placed if anything were to happen minimising the risks to all. This marine biodiversity should continue to receive the highest level of protection available at times when it is already under stress from human mismanagement of fishing and pollution. It is this kind of service I pay taxes for - and would pay more taxes for. Please retain this centre.
As a visiting small boat sailor who is getting to know this area, and knows how lonely it can feel when things turn difficult, I'd like you to maintain the reassurance of having 24 hour local cover from Stornoway Coastguard. The absence of night cover with local knowledge for coordinating rescues alarms me. These are some of the most testing waters around the UK and a local station must be essential for maritime safety.
I regularly sail in the waters covered by Stornoway Coastguard and have firsthand experience of how important it is for the area. Any downgrading of the station could have serious ramifications the more so in the light of the massive future west coast development of marine based energy generation. These activities will greatly increase marine traffic.
The UK government must be stupid to think that all THREE of the coasts of Scotland can be covered by one coastguard station in Aberdeen. The minimum needed is one on the East Coast, one on the west Coast and one to cover the Orkneys and Shetlands.
Having worked within the Minch and associated areas covered by the Stornoway Coastguard for the last 25years) and having on numerous occasion's needed their assistance, co-operation, and co-ordination in situations which could otherwise have ended in serious injury or fatality!!! . I personally think that the loss of local expertise, knowledge, and 24 hour coverage would amount to sheer folly, resulting in an increased rise in the fatal outcome of many incidents.
If Stornoway was to close lives will be lost because of lack of local knowledge in an emergency. I am greatly indebted to Stornoway coastguard for probably saving the life of my 19 year old son who had a serious heart problem while fishing in the Minch. The speed with which they reacted and airlifted my son to hospital made all the difference between life and death. I fear this speedy response will be lost if station was to close
Stornoway has so much coastline to cover. Local knowledge is can someone in Aberdeen know where all the ins and outs of the western isles and northwest coast of the Mainland. It's ridiculous to even think of it. All it would take would be one incident and a misunderstanding by someone in Aberdeen trying to understand gaelic and it could all go downhill.
This proposal is flawed and obviously it was drawn up by MCA management looking for brownie points ,see me what I have done to save money, they have little or no maritime knowledge and their aim is look after number 1. Where do they propose to get the additional staff required at Aberdeen MRCC when at this time it has a 30 to 40% staff turnover. What about local knowledge there are many headlands, islands etc with local names not marked on maps or charts and additionally many places have the same names , for instance there are 5 Pabbay islands in the Hebrides chain. Keep Stornoway as a 24 hr station guarding the west coast and the north west approaches to the UK , mariners work 24/7 not daylight hours The average time for incidents in the Stornoway area is around 3 to 4 hours and not a 10 minute smash and grab as happens in southerly stations.
I have no doubt that I owe my life to Stornoway Coastguard and Stornoway Coastguard Helicopter. These plans show little appreciation for the need for rescues to be coordinated with 100% clarity and speed.
When I get a "shout" I want to know asap, where I am headed and vital time could be lost with the communication side of things, that's when lives can be lost. Think of this going over the radio to someone in ABERDEEN " I am in loch Bun Abhainn Eadarra" or " I am 2 miles off Gob Rubha Bhalamuish Bhig" !!!, WE NEED FOLK FROM THE WEST COAST, ON THE WEST COAST, LOOKING AFTER THE WEST COAST
What are they thinking about, as an ex Coastguard Watch Officer I know that local knowledge combined with the vast amount of Search and Rescue Skills save lives. Yes in theory the technology makes it possible to co-ordinate all rescues from a single centre, what next, MRCC Delhi staffed by call handlers working from a scripted check list? Technology has its place but cannot replace the highly trained Coastguard who knows the area and all of its meteorological and tidal anomalies, a skill that can only be developed and maintained by working within that area.
The Northwest corner of the UK is surely a strategic location for a 24Hr station let alone daylight only. If closures must take place surely it is more sensible to relocate to the 'corners' of the country where shipping have to pass whether going North, South, East or West? Obvious to the four 'corners, Stornoway, Aberdeen, Dover and Falmouth. Aberdeen(safe) - vital for Oil/North sea. Dover(safe) - Channel separation system/English Channel. Falmouth - provides worldwide SAR through satellite systems and have a good knowledge of international SAR/Southwestern approaches to the UK. Stornoway - provide cover to the North Atlantic UK SAR area and cover the most remote coastline of all the UK. The Northern and Western Isles should be left with the status quo due to the extremes of weather all year round. Assistance to these areas depends greatly on local knowledge which cannot be transferred to an IT system as things change daily and even hourly in some locations.
This possibility, if it comes to fruition, would be an act of folly. While it may seem like a good suggestion as discussed in a comfortable office, I rather suspect that the seamen about to enter the North Atlantic or Minch waters as their vessel sinks from under them would hold a markedly different viewpoint.
As a long standing member of the Stornoway coastguard helicopter crew I believe that the Stornoway coastguard station is a vital link for the west side of Scotland. To have no link is a backward step and will result in difficulties co-ordinating between the auxiliary coastguards, RNLI and the coastguard helicopter. It is imperative that this link remains intact otherwise unnecessary casualties may be the end result of this closure.
The Atlantic coast from Cape Wrath to Northern Ireland has to be one of the most treacherous sea areas in Europe if not the world and closing a base which covers a majority section seems madness to me.
The Coastguard Operations Room is not a call centre. Local knowledge is a vital part of this service and its importance should not be underestimated. Their excellent personal relationships with Coastguard volunteer teams, lifeboat crews and other organisations helps them save lives - please don't let us lose this!
I have spent 36 years in Caledonian Macbrayne serving as Master of the various West Coat Ferries since 1980. I am very concerned that the whole of the West coast of the UK may be left without a Coastguard station in the aftermath of such closures. It may well be the case that technology is advanced nowadays but there is nothing like local knowledge when lives of seafarers are in danger. This local knowledge assists in making quick decisions in dire emergency situations and in my opinion is instrumental in saving lives when minutes and even seconds are of vital importance. I feel that the "need" to have 2 stations in the South of England makes a strong case to have 2 full time Stations in Scotland one East and one West. This would be best served by Stornoway serving alongside Aberdeen to redress the very substantial imbalance the proposed closures and the future plan will cause. The Minches are a vital part of the ecology of this nation and the closure of our local station in my professional opinion will have a potentially detrimental effect on this
As a leisure boat user out of Applecross I value the Coastguard presence at Stornoway, the local knowledge and experience and the regular weather updates. I would lose a lot of reassurance if it were lost and would be hard to persuade that this constitutes an improvement more than a mere cost saving at the expense of service and in this line of work that could mean lives.
This proven, cost effective service covers the North West cost of Scotland and the NW SAR region, its contribution and that of its staff to maritime safety and cannot be disputed or underestimated. Knowledge, familiarity, expertise and skills are of fundamental importance in any emergency, the local knowledge, familiarity, expertise and skills applicable to this vast SAR area even more so; given the adverse, time critical scenarios to which this station responds. In these scenarios the things in balance are lives, shipping and the environment , not something easily understood or conveyed in the bottom line of a balance sheet, or political agenda. Any reduction to this service will unquestionably put lives, shipping and the fragile marine ecosystem of this remote and world renowned area at risk, and as can been seen in most maritime disasters the costs of which vastly outweighing any savings potential. These points cannot and should not be brushed aside, failure to address them would further illustrate the lack of understanding and cognisance of the real issues, that preempted this initial decision and exposes it for what it real is, ie hasty and ill considered, driven purely by short term fiscal constraint, rather than properly considered long term maritime and environmental safety.
It is unbelievable that the powers that be are contemplating closing Stornoway Coastguard. I sailed on the West Coast for 30 years and fully appreciated the valuable service that Stornoway and Clyde Coastguards provide. It was a shock when Oban Coastguard closed a number of years ago and took with them their extensive local knowledge but not to have a Coastguard station on the North West coast is unthinkable. This proposal beggars belief. Perhaps the Government Ministers responsible for the proposed closures should be put in a small boat in the Minches on a dark night in a Force 8. Good luck with your campaign.



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