The new flexible shift patterns and the ability for areas covered by the new HM Coastguard structure to be handled by any Coastguard within it mean workload is managed nationally rather than on a centre by centre basis. This enables HM Coastguard to proactively match available staff across the whole network to its busiest areas and times, both daily and seasonally.
Therefore, it is more relevant to consider the total number of Coastguards available on the growing national network.
As of 6 March this network, and the benefits it delivers, stretches from Beachy Head to the Mull of Galloway. The transition of the national network around the United Kingdom will be complete by December 2015.
These historic risk assessed watch level assessments at the current individual centres err strongly on the side of caution. As each centre joins the evolving national network, the number of Coastguards at any of the individual centres becomes less significant.
Where there are specific issues at a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), Her Majesty’s Coastguard uses the current long established pairing arrangements between MRCCs. This enables each MRCC to be connected to at least one other MRCC which is available to provide mutual support.
Work continues on the fresh appraisal I have asked for on the relationship between the available levels of resource and need in the light of the benefit of the new structure.
Based on the risk assessment which characterised the previous model, during February 2015 Stornoway MRCC was staffed below risk assessed levels on 23 occasions out of 56 shifts, and Belfast MRCC was staffed below risk assessed levels on 15 occasions out of 56 shifts.