Paddy Corcoran Senior Maritime Operations Officer
(SMOO) at HM Coastguard, Holyhead
In the first of the Winter Talks at Holyhead Sailing Club on Thursday Evening Paddy gave a valuable insight to the structure and procedures of H M Coastguard. The Coastguard encourage visits at Holyhead CGOC, however Holyhead CGOC is a government controlled building and therefore all visits must be arranged in advance.
Paddy stressed that the SAR side of the Coastguard was a heavily regulated process and this at times may seem a little slow but he stressed that this was to ensure that the planning and methods used within the rescue were correct and competent.
In preparing SAR plans for the extensive area covered by the Holyhead Station he explained the various partner organisations which they use for different types of rescues, how the location and diversity of the situations required different types of emergency responders.
Things we ‘yachties’ can do to help:
- Make sure your CG66 IS up-to-date, you can do this on line.
- AIS class b transmitters are the best help a ‘yachtie’ can provide, because the Coastguard can see the yacht’s movements from start to finish of its voyage.
- EPIRB’s are a recognised distress signal and can aid location even if every other line of communication has failed. You should consider their use as the same as calling “Mayday”
- Always monitor CH 16 - remember since September 2017 the comms channels for maritime information will be VHF 62, 63 and 64.
- Wherever possible you should provide the Coastguard with a passage plan.
- When checking VHF always state destination number on board and ETR (Estimated time of return) or ETA if you are going to a different location.
- Always wear a lifejacket.
- Always clip on whilst in the cockpit or on deck as this will avoid a man overboard situation in the first place.
- Always know your position!
- Make sure you register your arrival with the Coastguard
As a yachtsman you are expected, i.e. it is your responsibility, to respond if you hear a PAN PAN or a MAYDAY and are able to assist. This may of course be merely to relay the message as, for example, the last ISORA when a vessel lost her forestay but was not getting a response from Dublin Coastguard as the vessel was out of range of her VHF. This PAN PAN was relayed by another competitor who managed to get through to the coastguard and subsequently a lifeboat was tasked and the yacht brought to safety.
Remember your VHF may not reach the required destination. It depends on a variety of factors…
Incidents spotted from the coastline
If you spot someone in danger and you are not on your yacht but close to a body of water:
- Dial 999 and ask for the coastguard
- State your location
- Say what you see, what the problem is and how many people affected
- Report the state of the tide, wave height etc..
- Report the current weather conditions in your location
An engaging and useful evening for the club and our thanks to Paddy for his excellent talk.
Additional Information on VHF and AIS may be found at: