The current consultation taking place in relation to Coastguard Modernisation, does not take account of announced proposed changes to MIRG, or that of the Emergency Towing Vessels, saidMervyn Kettle, former Area Manager for Cornwall FRS.
The consultation document summary highlights the risks around coasts - which reinforces the need to retain a viable and effective FRS MIRG. Those who have been associated with MIRG are already aware of these risks.
In the spending review announcements the DfT advised that 'they [MIRG] have not been involved in any significant incidents'. Further to this, the DfT state that: "there is little evidence that MIRG has changed the outcome of ship fires." Within four weeks of the MIRG going live in 2006, a MIRG team was deployed to a serious fire on the cruise ship MV Calypso in the English Channel with 480 persons onboard.
The Government, in its need to reduce the budget deficit, has proposed the ending of MIRG. But with over £3m invested into researching and introducing MIRG, many think it unwise to abolish it.
Mervyn Kettle insists that if the MCA do not wish to maintain funding in support of MIRG, an alternative would be to seek that funding elsewhere, and that the ethos of MIRG be maintained both for the benefit of the emergency responders and the shipping industry.
"We cannot afford to put the clock back on an issue such as UK maritime resilience especially in these times of heightened national security. To reduce the nation's maritime SAR capability, especially in dealing with the possible aftermath of a terrorist incident at sea as originally identified in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 would have disastrous consequences," said Mervyn Kettle.
Date posted: 17.01.11