Coastguard celebrates 200 years of saving lives at sea

Coastguards across the country are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the service dedicated to saving lives at sea.

Originally established on 15 January 1822 to combat smuggling, Her Majesty’s Coastguard expanded over the next 200 years to its current form, which involves 3,500 volunteers in 310 teams across the UK, which are supported by 10 search and rescue helicopters.

To mark the milestone, 200 throwing lines – part of the standard rescue kit – will be thrown by Coastguards across the country as a symbol of the service’s dedication.

Tom Wright, Area Commander for the South West of England, told the PA News Agency: ‘We have changed in inconceivable ways since we were set up and in my time we have changed enormously.

“We have become much safer and our rescue capability (has improved) and we are now in technical rescue.

“We rely a lot more on technology when it comes to our communications, and new technologies, when it comes to drones to help with search and rescue and other unmanned (go) vehicles, will be key to moving forward. before.”

Adding that volunteers and staff remain the most important part of the Coastguard, Mr Wright said: “We couldn’t do what we do without the volunteers who volunteer their time 24/7. 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Without this manpower, we would not be able to undertake the search and rescue that we do.

Maritimes Minister Robert Courts said: “Congratulations to HM Coastguard on their 200th anniversary. I am immensely proud and humbled by the continued dedication and professionalism of the staff and volunteers who keep everyone on and around our shores safe.

Tom Wright throws out a throwing line – part of the standard rescue kit – to mark the anniversary (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“HM Coastguard is the backbone of our maritime industry and the nation is indebted to its incredible workforce who continue to deliver exceptional service.”

Coastguard Director Claire Hughes said: ‘When you look at how we started and where we are now, it’s easy to celebrate the innovation and development that can be seen throughout the service.

“And yet we are far prouder of the people, volunteers and staff who, throughout two centuries, have continued to strive to keep people safe on the coast and at sea.

“We have always responded and will always respond to people in distress.

“While this milestone is an opportunity for us to look back with pride on what we have achieved, we have always looked to the future and I am proud that we continue to look for ways to improve and save lives. .

“I’m proud of the commitment, dedication and selfless sacrifice, and I’m proud of how the service has grown and continues to grow.”

A Coastguard spokeswoman said innovation was continuing at the service, including a £175million upgrade to its nationwide radio network and the introduction of electric vehicles to reduce its carbon footprint.

She said: “With ever-changing technology, the service will continue to strive to be at the forefront of innovation to carry out its life-saving work.

“The service continues to adapt to change – over the past few years it has provided mutual aid and support during events and incidents to other emergency partners.

“During the pandemic, the Coastguard has supported the NHS, attended the G7 and COP26 in 2021 and are called upon to provide support during national emergencies including floods or water supplies for stranded drivers. “