Staff at Shetland’s coastguard station could soon be covering an extended area following the closure of operating centres elsewhere in Scotland.
Watch officers at the Knab Road station already have a patch of 36,500 square miles to look after, which includes Orkney – though not the Pentland Firth – and as far as 62 degrees north to an area bordering the Icelandic and Faroese search and rescue areas.
The proposed changes are still being negotiated with MCA management. It follows last year’s successful fight to save the Lerwick station from closure or reduced operating hours, and could mean workers will also be responsible for areas as far south as Wick.
However Alex Dodge of the PCS union said staff would receive extra training to help deal with the larger remit. The MCA has also been advertising for an extra staff member for Lerwick in recent weeks, to help deal with the extra workload.
“We will be going from five stations to three, and although we are very sad to see us losing stations, we are having to be realistic and get on with the job in hand,” said Mrs Dodge.
“We’ve been recruiting and hopefully we will have a new recruit in place by the end of March.
“The important thing to remember is that although there will be a [Maritime Operations Centre] in Southampton, Shetland will be looked after by Shetland Coastguard, and the local station will be operating.”