Closing time for Liverpool’s coastguard

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Crosby's Coastguard centre © Pics by Hollie Hayes

Crosby’s Coastguard centre. Pic by Hollie Hayes © JMU Journalism

Liverpool’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) closed today as part of a transfer of its resources to the Holyhead HM Coastguard.

As one of Liverpool’s oldest such centres, it has been situated in Crosby since 1982. Prior to that there was a coastguard lookout at Formby Point which had been there since 1948. The MRCC is the only coastguard rescue coordination centre in the Liverpool district.

The MRCC in Crosby is one of nine coastguard stations to close in the past four years and was instigated by new technology being used for coastguard services, allowing operations to be carried efficiently with less physical teamwork.

Steve Cross, watch manager, told JMU Journalism: “It’s called FCG or the Future Coast Guard. They’re relying on new technology and different methods of working search and rescue.

“What they think in the future is they won’t need as many coastguards stations, so at the moment we’re in the process of closing half the coastguard stations that we had and transferring their areas of responsibility to the surviving other half.”

When calling 999 or sending out a distress signal from now on, emergencies will be dealt with via Holyhead, North Wales, as opposed to the Liverpool District –despite covering the whole of the Irish Sea, parts of Southern Scotland and the Liverpool area.

This recent transfer of Liverpool MRCC and others to Holyhead will affect the jobs of everyone at the centre with 11 workers being made redundant, alongside one member of staff who is moving to another co-ordination centre.

“They’ve also established what’s called a MOC, Maritime Operations Centre, which can control all the other stations, and that’s based at Fareham near Southampton. Well, near Portsmouth actually,” Mr Cross said.

Considerable efforts have been made to save the centre with the the PCS union and many MPs backing a campaign to save the centre. However their efforts have not succeeded in preventing its closure which will mean job losses and early retirements.

“Virtually all watch keepers are either made redundant or take early retirement and a few have managed to secure jobs in other civil service departments or external departments. Only three people here are staying in the coastguard service,” Cross, who has worked there for 18-and-a-half years, said.

About Hollie Hayes, JMU Journalism