Friday, 31 October 2014


The master of a wind farm passenger transfer vessel has today been ordered to pay £9,702 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

Michael Gallagher was in charge when the workboat catamaran Windcat 9 with 15 people on board when it  hit a large floating military target in Donna Nook Air Weapons Range on 21 November 2012.

At the time the collision Windcat 9 was estimated in traveling around 23 knots (26 mph). The hull of the Windcat 9 was badly damaged, causing extensive flooding, but there were no injuries.

An investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) found that Mr. Gallagher was not keeping a proper lookout and had incorrectly set his electronic navigation equipment.

Today Mr. Gallagher pleaded at Southampton Magistrates Court to breach of Section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. He was fined £1,500 and told to pay £8,082 in costs plus a victim surcharge of £120.

Gwen Lancaster, Surveyor in Charge at Hull MCA Marine Office, said:

"Mr. Gallagher should have kept a proper lookout at all times using all available means and be competent in using all his electronic navigational equipment. Luckily no one was hurt, but there could have been multiple fatalities as a result of this high speed collision.”


Survey and inspections are carried out to ensure that vessels are safe to set sail. Any structural defect, issue with communications or lifesaving equipment on board could mean the difference between life and death on the water.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) surveyors that carry out these inspections are trained to spot any issues, and are on hand to offer advice. 

In the most serious of cases, the MCA can detain vessels to stop them from sailing, until the necessary improvements are made.
SHOCKER 1: Sickening Sink

So what happens when a surveyor boards a vessel? Well, they take time to look around and thoroughly inspect the state of it. This can include crew living accommodation.

This ship was detained due to a number of safety, health and welfare issues, including deficiencies in the crew accommodation with a lack of hot water and heating. As you can see, the cleaning regime leaves a lot to be desired.

But that's only the start of it.
SHOCKER 2: Crazy Cargo
In 2013, surveyors detained 61 ships in UK ports. You'd hope this would send out a clear message to ship operators that sub-standard conditions will not be tolerated. 
But perhaps that message isn't get through...

This loading process here is rather scary. Not sure the cargo will remain in place once out on the open sea. Strong winds and choppy seas could see these topple off, lost forever leaving the ship operator with one unhappy owner.

Simon Graves is a Surveyor based at the Southampton Marine Office. He says:

"The majority of owners and operators of passenger boats, cargo ships and pleasure vessels are responsible. They work closely with us to ensure their vessels are in good working order. But some are not so conscientious.
SHOCKER 3: Mushroom Madness

"This was a picture taken of an engine hatch. As you can see there is no cover, some time, and is a little damp. Not what we would expect from a ship shape vessel."

This one below was also a big concern for one of our surveyors. This was supposed to be a safe access point to gain access to the cargo ship. However, there is a little issue with debris blocking your path on to and off the vessel. 
SHOCKER 4: Access Denied

Alan Thomson, MCA's Surveyor in Charge at the Tyne Marine Office, said:

"We carry out thorough inspections on ships visiting our ports. If we are in any doubt about safety, crew health and welfare, then we take action.

"Detention notices are a last resort, but if they are issued against a ship, we make sure they remain in place until we're satisfied that all the necessary improvements have been carried out to an acceptable standard."

SHOCKER 5: Lousy Laundry

SHOCKER 6: Shocking Shower

SHOCKER 7: Deflated Dinghy

Monday, 27 October 2014


The Coastguard received a call from the police this morning who had witnessed, via CCTV, a small vessel sinking in Dunoon, the Firth of Clyde. Two passengers were seen going into the water, and then clinging on to rocks.

The Coastguard requested the RNLI lifeboat from Helensburgh to the scene, but the weather conditions prevented the lifeboat from getting close enough to enable a rescue. A nearby passenger ferry had sight of the casualties and was able to circle the area, keeping a visual, until the Royal Navy rescue helicopter from Prestwick was able to get on scene.

The two casualties were airlifted and transferred to a nearby landing site. The Coastguard Rescue Team from Dunoon and the Coastguard Sector Manager from Clyde were on scene waiting for the helicopter. On safe arrival the two were then transferred into the care of an ambulance crew.

Sunday, 26 October 2014


The Coastguard coordinated a search at Mawgan Porth near Newquay after a group of surfers got into difficulty.  Three people were recovered from the sea and transferred to hospital.
The Coastguard received multiple 999 calls from people at Mawgan Porth beach this afternoon when a group of surfers got into difficulty.  The Coastguard launched a search involving Newquay and Padstow Coastguard Rescue Teams, RNLI lifeboats from Newquay and Padstow and the rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose.  Police and South West Ambulance crew also attended. 
The group who got into difficulty consisted of seven people with boards in the water; four people were all located safe and well on shore but three adults were recovered from the water.  Two of those recovered from the water were given CPR at the scene.  The three casualties were transferred to hospital by the rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose and both the Devon and Cornwall Air Ambulances.

Saturday, 25 October 2014


A man’s body has been found off the beach at Newquay after a 999 call triggered a search in the early hours of Saturday.

At 2.43am the Coastguard received a 999 call from a lady on a Newquay beach reporting that her boyfriend and a friend had gone swimming in the sea while under the influence of alcohol and only one of them had returned.

The Coastguard launched a search of the area for the missing swimmer involving Newquay and Padstow Coastguard Rescue Teams, Newquay RNLI All Weather and Inshore Lifeboats and the rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose.

The missing swimmer was located in the surf line by the Newquay Inshore Lifeboat, the Ambulance Crew attended to the casualty before being airlifted to Treliske Hospital where he was later declared deceased.

Thursday, 23 October 2014


The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has appointed Bill Dunham as the new Director Strategy and Corporate Services (DSCS). 

This new post combines the current role of Director Strategy and Finance with new responsibility for the Human Resources, Information and Communications Technology and Estates Management functions. 

Bill is currently serving as the Deputy Commandant General of the Royal Marines, in the rank of Brigadier. 

On his new appointment Bill said:

“Serving for over 35 years in the Royal Marines has given me an enduring sense of the importance of the sea for Britain as an island nation. 

"I am excited about being able to maintain my maritime links whilst exploiting my knowledge of the sea and using my wider planning, leadership and management skills in this newly created role. 

“I look forward to getting to know everyone when I start on 20 January 2015.”

Images of Bill Dunham are available from the MCA Image library.


Tuesday, 21 October 2014


As parts of the UK continue to be affected by gale-force winds today, the Coastguard is urging people to take extra care. 

Gusts of up to 70mph have been reported in some coastal areas and combined with the stormy seas, conditions are treacherous. The Met Office reports that the strong winds are expected to last throughout much of the day.

Liverpool Coastguard has this morning dealt with a number of vessels that have broken free from their moorings in the strong winds. 

Paul Parkes from Liverpool Coastguard says: 

“The crashing waves may be spectacular to watch but they are also extremely dangerous. The Coastguard’s advice is simple: don’t take risks. But if you do get into difficulty, or spot someone who might be in trouble, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard."