For the second visit to the Holyhead Coastguard Station this year a small group from the club arrived and were welcomed by Paddy (Dave) Corcoran.
We were introduced to the inner workings of the building with the customary Safety Briefing so we all knew how to escape when the building catches fire!
It is a superb building with fabulous facilities which allow for the officers to join with other emergency services for disaster planning, to catch up on a bit of rest during their break periods and most importantly to manage their main areas of operation. Paddy explained that the area covered by the station here is huge, stretching from Mid Wales right up to past Blackpool with its western edge on the Irish/UK border.
The Coastguard collaborates with all other country’s equivalent services under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) so whatever happens in Brexit it won’t affect the HM Coastguard’s operation!
In the operations room each seat is surrounded by three large screens on which Paddy demonstrated all the capabilities which are pretty amazing. With Voice over IP telephony and the ability to record all the information as it is described by the caller such as location, the wind and tide conditions. All these facts and factors help them to make rapid decisions as to which is the most appropriate response service or group of services.
We were then shown how, when other stations are over stretched, they can connect their systems to provide assistance as though theywere actually at the other station.
The group had lots of questions including the dates for changes to the VHF Channels and what is happening with DSC calling. We had a discussion over the best ways to contact the Coastguard and were advised that we should, whenever we go out in our yachts, always call our trip in over VHF with details of destination and how many crew. If your vessel is CG66 registered, and it should be, then the Coastguard have all the details ready for use if necessary. If we are going our as a group then a single phone call would be the best method of relaying this informaiton. DSC has some annoying features on their system so at this time we are encouraged to use VHF. The proposed changes to the operating channels is not being put into effect right now so you will continue to be allocated to the existing channels.
It was a great visit and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all involved and especially Paddy for a fascinating afternoon.