Seafarers were left exposed to potential dangers yesterday when coastguard communication links were broken.
A BT fault on the UK mainland meant four crucial radio masts were put out of action for two hours. It left coastguard officers in Lerwick’s Knab Road station struggling to monitor emergency frequencies from around 5.30pm.
Aerials at Saxa Vord, Collafirth, Fitfull Head and Compass Head were all affected, losing the ability to pick up VHF and DSC signals. MF signals were also lost at Collafirth. Rescue teams from Baltasound and Sumburgh were sent to the hills to provide cover, using portable radio sets.
It later emerged that the fault was with the BT fixed link between Inverness and Portmahomack, in Easter Ross. The problem was resolved at around 7.30pm.
The incident is the second time in recent weeks that communication problems have affected coastguard operations. Problems with BT’s infrastructure caused difficulties with VHF aerials in May.