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Shetland coastguard joins national network

THE LERWICK coastguard station is the latest to join the emergency service’s new national network.

A technology upgrade with new computer systems has connected the Lerwick operation centre to the National Maritime Operations Centre in Hampshire.

In turn this will connect Shetland with 10 other coastguard stations around the UK, allowing them to provide mutual support during busy periods.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency stressed this was not a move to reduce resources or the availability of coastguard rescue teams, lifeboats, rescue helicopters and other rescue units.

Shetland coastguard maritime operations controller Steve Turner said: “The way we deliver the coordination of search and rescue operations on our coast and out at sea is changing.

“But the public won’t notice any difference. If you call 999 and ask for the coastguard, or issue a mayday broadcast, we will still be here to help you.

“The new national coastguard network will be able to oversee and assist with operations around the whole of the UK.

“Here at Shetland CGOC (coastguard operations centre) we’re now part of this network, so we can call upon help from our fellow coastguards elsewhere in the country, and also in turn help them out if needed.

“It’s important to remember though that the rescue teams in your community are unaffected.

“There will still be the same number of lifeboats, coastguard rescue teams, helicopters and other rescue resources.”

The new national network is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2015.

Aberdeen joined the network last month and by December Belfast, Stornoway, London and Dover will be added to complete the network.