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Communication breakdown

SHETLAND coastguard suffered a loss of its emergency communications system for the second time in the space of a month due to a breakdown in BT’s mainland network.

Four radio masts at Saxa Vord, Collafirth, Compass Head and Fitful Head were out of action for two hours from 5.30pm on Monday evening.

Local auxiliary coastguard teams had to use mobile radio sets to receive any emergency signals at the mast sites.

A BT spokesman said that the problem had been caused by a transmission fault between Portmahomack radio station and Inverness that was swiftly identified and resolved. He said it was unrelated to the previous fault at Aberdeen in June.

Shetland coastguard manager Neville Davis said there was nothing out of the ordinary about the outage, which was a part of life working in the islands.

“If we had a level of downtime that was much, much higher then I would be concerned, but at the moment there is nothing untoward here. We have alternative means of getting people to listen to aerials,” he said.

Last year the coastguard station was cut off for much longer following a lightning strike on Sanday, in Orkney, and problems have been caused in the past by workmen cutting through cables on the mainland.