The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) says Durness Coastguard Rescue Team is back to normal operations after resigning en masse over red tape

15 February 2017

Members of the Durness Coastguard Rescue Team have now returned to duty after resigning en masse over red tape.

The team met with senior members of HM Coastguard to resolve issues including claims they had not been properly trained.

In a short statement, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “Senior members of HM Coastguard have met with the Durness Coastguard Rescue Team. All the outstanding issues have been resolved and the team are now back to normal operations.”

During the walkout, cover for this area of the north-west Highlands of Scotland was provided by the coastguard unit at Kinlochbervie.


7 February 2017

There are claims that the entire Durness Coastguard Rescue Team has resigned in a row over red tape.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has confirmed the resignations and has stressed that life saving services in the north-west Highlands of Scotland will continue unaffected.

It said the head of coastal operations is in contact with the Durness Coastguard Rescue Team, and there is a meeting scheduled in a fortnight to agree a way forward.

In the meantime, the coastguard unit at Kinlochbervie will provide cover.

In a statement to YBW, the MCA said: “When a Coastguard Rescue Team (CRT) is not available – which would happen anyway if it was going through training – cover from other places is provided. In this case this would be the Kinlochbervie CRT – they are aware that they will be covering the area.”

“HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopters cover a huge area and can be used to deploy extra resources such as rope rescue teams where needed, as well as providing life-saving capability.”

Changes to VHF channel numbers to contact the UK Coastguard

“It is not a requirement for the helicopter to have a CRT to assist with the landing, but sometimes the crew will ask for one. In this particular case, there would be time to send the Kinlochbervie CRT to the site if needed,” continued the statement.

“We are sorry that there have been these resignations. As HM Coastguard, we value the contribution our volunteers make to their communities and providing safer lives at sea.”

“We will be working with the Durness CRT towards a resolution in this case and would like to assure the local community that if they call 999 and ask for the Coastguard, they will receive the same life-saving service they always have,” stressed the MCA.

The Press and Journal newspaper is reporting that the seven volunteer members of the Durness Coastguard Rescue Team quit last weekend.

It said the “mass resignations” at Durness were triggered after station officer, Alex Morrison, left.

Speaking to the paper, Morrison said: “I have left for two reasons. There’s so many changes coming out I just felt it was time to go. Secondly, in my opinion, we were under trained and, in this day and age, if something goes wrong, your head is on the block.”

“There’s no coverage for the area now – I dread to think what will happen if there’s an emergency. But they (the Maritime and Coastguard Agency) have proved they don’t care,” he claimed.

“We were not even deemed competent to let off an orange smoke signal for helicopter landings. I have been doing that stuff for 37 years,” added Morrison.

Durness Coastguard Rescue Team has successfully carried out numerous operations over the years, including rescuing walkers, which are a common sight in the area.