Reflecting on a busy 2019

Reegan Green

Here’s just a snapshot of what we got up to during 2019. From all of us at the MCA, have a safe and happy New Year.

January

  • Rescue teams from Shetland and Stornoway shared the prestigious DfT Rescue Shield. A fallen climber was saved from a remote cliff precipice with a 200 ft drop below.

  • MCA members of staff honoured for services to safety in the New Year’s Honours list.

February

  • Our Enforcement team brought about a prosecution resulting in a £25 k fine for the owners of a 85 m tanker which had serious navigation and safety deficiencies, putting those on board and other maritime users at risk.

  • The counter-pollution team oversaw the response to an oil spill at Limekilns, Scotland, removing the oil from the beach.

March

  • A ‘textbook’ approach to safety precautions helped save the life of Reegan Green, a Cornish fisherman. He fell overboard but his lifejacket with a beacon meant he could be identified in rough cold seas after falling overboard at night. He was airlifted to safety.

  • In Scotland, two kayakers were rescued when they got into trouble and triggered their personal locator beacons (PLBs), small handheld subscription-emergency locator devices, they cost approx. £200.

April

  • A year-long trial of the use of drones for search and rescue was launched in partnership with other emergency services in Essex.

  • Environmental scientists from the counter pollution team were involved in trials in the Clyde for a new aircraft that can fly over pollution in the seas to monitor pollution and drop dispersants to help break up oil spills.

May

  • The UK Ship Register (UKSR) became available to ship owners across the globe so they can register their ships and comply with the high UK safety standards, improving shipping safety worldwide. By the end of November, the UK had 1,178 commercial, non-fishing vessels on the register comprising 10.5 million gross tonnes.

  • Inverness, one of 10 strategically located sites for the search and rescue helicopters, received a £20 million investment in two new helicopters for long-range rescues in the most demanding conditions.

June

  • We launched our first survey to assess what the experience for people with disabilities using ferries and cruise ships is like, to help guide future policy.

  • HM Coastguard, part of the MCA, stepped in to help other emergency services in Lincolnshire. Hundreds of people and homes had to be evacuated when two months’ worth of rain fell in two days.

July

  • We showcased search and rescue and counter-pollution at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire where astronaut Major Tim Peake was among the thousands of visitors.

  • There were nearly 5,000 incidents this month. Including rescues of six people cut off by the tide at Holy Island, Northumbria; 15 fishermen airlifted off a sinking vessel in the Scottish islands; 21 passengers and two crew rescued from a pleasure vessel taking on water off West Wales; a time-critical rescue of a man trapped in rocks in Norfolk.

August

  • Jenson and Reuben, the UK’s youngest surviving pre-term twin boys who were flown by emergency helicopter to Oxford from Cornwall returned a year on to meet their rescuers in Newquay.
  • Baby Torran who was born during a Newquay helicopter’s dash to hospital also returned to the base with his parents and sister to celebrate his first birthday.

September

  • The MCA’s receiver of wreck ensures that a bell from USS Osprey, a US Navy ship which sank off the Isle of Wight during WWII is returned to the American authorities.

  • An international maritime rescue federation Award was won by the MCA for work exploring the use of remotely operated vehicles in search and rescue operations.

  • Popular BBC TV show master chef chose The Dover coastguard operations centre above the iconic white cliffs for its celebrity challenge.

October

  • The enforcement team’s work to ensure safety for seafarers who go to sea on all types of vessels from those involved in commercial fishing to international racing yachts meant that 467 reports have been investigated in the last year and 11 cases are currently going through the judicial process.

  • A scientist turned deck officer, Dr Ewan McNeil from Fife, received the MCA’s Officer Trainee of the Year award.

November

  • People from across the MCA took part in Remembrance Day services to pay respect to the fallen and those who lived through war.

  • HM Coastguard took part in an international search and rescue operation after a super yacht in Indonesia set off its emergency beacon. Happily all four people on board made it to safety.

December

  • At the end of 2019 in the few days from Christmas Eve up to New Year’s HM Coastguard responded to 661 incidents around the UK. Over a year, we respond to more than 24,000 incidents.

  • The MCA’s counter pollution team has been working with Pembrokeshire county council to clear and recover debris after a container ship lost some of its cargo in rough seas. Apples, packets of rice cakes and tin foil have been washed up on beaches.

/Public Release. View in full here.