New Saxa Vord base station planned to help coastguard ‘save lives for years to come’

A new communications tower is planned for an old RAF base as part of a “significant investment” in replacing the coastguard radio network.

Talent Technology Services wants to develop a base station at Saxa Vord in Unst to help the coastguard “continue to save lives for years to come”.

The new network, which will be built and maintained by Telent Technology, will replace old copper telephone wiring, which is being withdrawn by BT, with modern fibre-based hybrid technology at each of the coastguard’s 155 remote radio sites.

New connection lines will also be added to improve the reliability of the radio network.

Part of the replacement network, including in Unst, will use microwave dish links where a fibre link is not viable.

The new network is to ensure the coastguard can continue communicating with ships in UK waters, advising on hazards and receiving distress alerts.

It will also support track shipping through automatic identification systems, which is said to present a “very significant national security risk”.

Other activities which the new network is said to support include supporting the launch of hundreds of charitably funded lifeboats to save lives and communicating with coastguard helicopters.

A decision is due by 1st September.


Add Your Comment
  • Bob Skinley

    • August 7th, 2022 12:25

    And just as soon as they can establish it’s reliability they will close the local Coastguard Station, which is what they attempted to do in 2010-11 but couldn’t because of the successful campaign we fought to keep the station open. One of our strongest arguments was the unreliability of the communications with the mainland so that Coastguard services could not be run remotely from the mainland. They will now feel that it is technically possible and will again attempt to close the local station. I speak from experience, having served 10 years in HM Coastguard and was a Search And Rescue Mission Co-ordinator at the Knab until 2015 and was deeply involved in the campaign to save the station from closure. The powers that be in the MCA are determined to see out their original plan so that the UK is covered by around 3 major co-ordination centres with the loss of many local Coastguard Stations. They were stopped last time, I fear we may not be so fortunate this time around. When we saved the station we all thought we might get another 10 years if we were lucky. We were not far off.


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