Major BT fault causes havoc for coastguard communications

Shetland Coastguard’s routine operations virtually stopped for a period today and late yesterday because of a major failure on a BT line, although emergency calls were answered and the service has now been restored.

The problem started at around 4.45pm yesterday when aerials at remote sites which transmit and receive to and from the BT hub on the mainland were lost. Normal service was resumed about 9pm yesterday but “exactly the same thing” happened at around 11am today.

This resulted in no connection between the remote aerial sites and the coastguard centre in Lerwick. The aerial sites at Lerwick and in Orkney remained operational, however.

Coastal rescue teams went to the remote sites at Saxa Vord, Collafirth, Fitful Head and Compass Head with vehicles with radios to keep watch on the distress channel 16.

A spokesman for Shetland Coastguard said: “We had to fall back to distress watch-keeping as access to remote aerial sites was down until BT fixed the network failure.”

A spokesman for BT said: “The service was affected yesterday between 4.46pm and 8.33pm after problems with a power unit at Helmsdale radio station. A separate fault at Thrumster radio station caused problems with their network between 11.30am and 1.30pm today.”

Shetland Coastguard said the system was “handed back” to them by engineers at 2.30pm, and as the remote sites had been manned there had been no danger to the public.


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