Coastguard marks milestone 200th birthday

From its beginnings with coastal lookouts to today’s hi-tech national network of co-ordination centres, from small localised beginnings to international players – one thing has stayed the same for two centuries, HM Coastguard seeks to search, to rescue and to save.

Two hundred years of saving lives along the UK coast and at sea, as well as co-ordinating rescues for those in distress in international waters, is being marked this year as HM Coastguard celebrates its milestone anniversary.

It was on 15th January, 1822, that HM Coastguard was formally brought into existence and has been working to keep people safe at the coast and sea ever since.

In honour of that actual birthday, coastguards across all four home nations cast throwlines as a symbol of the service’s dedication – past and present.

Throwlines, which form part of the lifesaving kit used by coastguard teams, were cast into the seas on Saturday at 11am.

In 2022, coastguard operations centres co-ordinate responses to emergency situations at the coast calling on 310 rescue teams – made up of 3,500 dedicated volunteers – and using 10 search and rescue helicopter bases, including Sumburgh.

Last month HM Coastguard began to implement its new updated search and rescue radio network which uses fibre technology.

More than £175million has been invested to upgrade the Coastguard’s national radio network across all 165 sites over the next two years.

This will improve and future proof its communication infrastructure and ensure that it remains able to communicate and exchange data quickly and reliably in order to co-ordinate rescues and save lives.

Divisional Commander for Scotland, Susan Todd, said: “As an emergency service HM Coastguard is always busy and it’s rare that we get the chance to reflect on how far we have come. 200 years of saving lives at sea and at the coast is truly something to be proud of. The symbolic casting of throwlines across the UK is a reflection of our unwavering commitment to keeping people safe at sea.”

Maritime minister Robert Courts said: “HM Coastguard is the backbone of our maritime sector and the nation is indebted to its incredible workforce which continues to deliver an exceptional service.”


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