Coatguard rationalization and the loss of the Aquila

Quandary

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The enquiry in to the loss of the Aquila in summer 2009 is going on now and the MIAB report on it is worth reading by those who are concerned by this issue.
To summarize - when the trawler capsized on Bo Faskadale, a cyclist spotted her and made a 999 call, from all accounts his reporting was good and his information and that of his local landlady was very accurate. The call went to Clyde who tasked a helicopter from Renfrew, after a short while they had worked out that the casualty was just north of Ardnamurchan so they then passed the responsibilty to Stornaway with the information that the helicopter was taking off. Someone else in Clyde then decided to stand down the Renfrew helicopter but they neglected to advise Stornaway. so theirs was not tasked immediately. The survivor managed to make contact with the other three crew in the water and secured some of them with twine to floating planks before swimming for shore, after about an hour his shout was heard by the single handed yachtsman in Arran Comrade and he was rescued. The yachtman had heard the coastguard vhf announcement but did not pick up the location so had no idea he was close to the scene, the message was not repeated, and the usual 'silence' was not called for, so normal vhf chatter was continuing. Stornaway had later realized that the Clyde helicopter was not coming so then sent their own as well as the lifeboats etc. The delay arising is claimed to be only 20 minutes and the report said it had no bearing on the outcome.
HOWEVER, The crew were all in the water, not trapped in the boat and the actions of the shore witness and the survivor were impressive, the professionals managed to foul up on two counts, the chopper and vhf silence, the reason why they say it did not affect the outcome was the long distance to fly from either station, but it was summer though the water would still have been cold.
I suspect that a single station with better trained personnel might do better, no matter how far away it was.
 
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boomerangben

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I have not read the report, however, it certainly used to be the case that unless a casualty is within 30 miles of the SAR Base, ARCC at RAF Kinloss had to co-ordinate the allocation of the airborne asset.
 
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I am not sure that a single station is relevant but the "better trained personnel" or improved operating procedures would appear to be areas that need to be addressed.

I think the delay, 20 minutes, and lack of VHF Mayday procedure, should be enough for the Coastguard to publicly accept responsibility for increasing the probability of death i.e. reducing the probability of saving life.

Setting the loss of life aside, its disappointing that the Coastguard demonstrated a lack of control when executing their duty.
 
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Interesting post Quandary but you dont say why there was radio silence or why the helicopter was stood down. Presumably all phone calls are recorded ( if it happens with my stockbroker on something relatively unimportant, how much more likely when lives are involved) so they should be able to point a finger and say who messed up.

Or is it like the police where in such circumstances ranks close and documents are misfiled.
 

Quandary

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Interesting post Quandary but you dont say why there was radio silence or why the helicopter was stood down. Presumably all phone calls are recorded ( if it happens with my stockbroker on something relatively unimportant, how much more likely when lives are involved) so they should be able to point a finger and say who messed up.

Or is it like the police where in such circumstances ranks close and documents are misfiled.

The chopper, - Renfrew for Clyde, Stornaway has their own, the 999 call was sent to Clyde who started to act, then discovered that the casualty was about 5 miles north of their area, a so stood themselves down and handed over to Stornaway, the guy who did this told Stornaway they had sent the chopper, meantime his mate on the other line told it not to go.
As for not calling for vhf silence to allow emergency working, I do not know, perhaps they were not taking a report from a leisure cyclist on shore seriously enough.
One mistake is easier to forgive than two.
The MIAB report is more critical of the boat, its gear and ballast and the decision to dredge over the Bo Faskadale reef which is notoriously steep sided, but good ground for scallops.
 

iain789

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The chopper, - Renfrew for Clyde, Stornaway has their own, the 999 call was sent to Clyde who started to act, then discovered that the casualty was about 5 miles north of their area, a so stood themselves down and handed over to Stornaway, the guy who did this told Stornaway they had sent the chopper, meantime his mate on the other line told it not to go.
As for not calling for vhf silence to allow emergency working, I do not know, perhaps they were not taking a report from a leisure cyclist on shore seriously enough.
One mistake is easier to forgive than two.
The MIAB report is more critical of the boat, its gear and ballast and the decision to dredge over the Bo Faskadale reef which is notoriously steep sided, but good ground for scallops.

Small but relevant point, the 'Clyde asset' RN chopper Rescue 177 is based at HMS Gannet at Prestwick Airport, which is significantly further from Bo Faskadale than Renfrew (which incidentally closed in the 1960s).
 

Quandary

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Apologies, of course you are right, I have never been good at finding airports, it does not really change the issue though. The report concluded that the helicopter from Prestwick would have been on the scene earlier because it had already been tasked. The issue that I found concerning was the confused info. being passed around by professionals.
Since this incident the co-ordination of all the rescue helicopters is managed from Kinloss.
 

Fascadale

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I watched this tragedy unfold from the north coast of Ardnamurchan.

The person reporting the incident gave her address as Kilmory and I understand told CG that the capsize was in line with her house and Muck, and near the Fascadale Rock.

It is easy to understand that an operator sitting in the Clyde CG building at Gourock would be confused; this wiki page lists seven west coast Kilmorys and I know of at least another Fascadale. Not everyone would be certain of the whereabouts of each Hebridean island, its easy to confuse the Ronas

Communications on the north coast of Ardnamurchan are also hampered by a lack of mobile reception.

The resources that attended the capsize were impressive, the Mallaig and Tobermory lifeboats, two helicopters, the Tobermory Kilchoan ferry, the Kilchoan CG team and finally the CGs Anglian Princess.

Had they all got there quicker there may well have been fewer lives lost.

Had the Oban CG not been closed there may well have been less confusion.

Here is the Aquila being raised

40.jpg


I was recently given a photo of this rare sight, the kelp on the Fascadale Rock breaking the surface. The photo was taken at low water springs, with a tidal height of 0.5m. You can see the Fascadale buoy on the right with Muck in the background.

photo.jpg
 

awol

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And in the geographic pedantry department - the Clyde CG sit in a blockhouse at the west end of Greenock esplanade at least half a mile from the Gourock boundary.

I'm not sure there is any lesson regarding CG centralisation to be learned from the Aquila, but if there is, it is that once one station starts a rescue co-ordination, they should just get on with it and not risk confusion from a hand-over to another CG centre.
 

Old Troll

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Could not agree more with AWOL. Clyde started and should have completed there mission. No hand overs. Remember the old wartime saying about " Send three and fourpence we are going to a dance ".
 

NormanS

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What it shows is that, had the coastguard watchkeeper actually listened to the telephone message, which was very clear about the position, instead of thinking, "Oh yes, I know where Kilmory is....." the response time would have been quicker.
Also, when it was eventually realised that the incident was along the north shore of Ardnamurchan, a Mayday relay should have been broadcast from the Arisaig aerial.
 

stevepick

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I watched this tragedy unfold from the north coast of Ardnamurchan.

......................

Had they all got there quicker there may well have been fewer lives lost.

Had the Oban CG not been closed there may well have been less confusion.

I agree, I have yet to see a convincing argument for the proposed closures. I have read the proposal document - I commend it as a piss poor piece of managment consultant bean counting, with several huge, obvious holes in it . One of the proposed new 24 hour stations has not been planned or costed yet - they will do it somewhere,somehow on the south coast. The network and systems used will be upgraded ( presumably to allow some automation that some IT/systems jockeys have sold the technical idiots at the department of transport - that means there is an IT/comms system nightmare overrun/functional failure waiting to happen here, and the magnitude of change will make it worse. Finally the cost savings appear pathetic over 25 years (£120 million of total from £640 million expected costs), yet the system and infrastructure costs are not explicit in the document which , frankly makes me seethe with suspicion, especially when the infrastructure costs have plainly not been considered properly, it never is by civil service idiots. The answers here don't explain why Oban was closed( apart from pathetic savings), and clyde now have a very large coast to guard. I know they do the job well, but I cant help feeling that, more local coastguard stations make for better monitoring and local knowledge. The Aquila is the extreme example, but that would be multiplied/magnified if we are reduced to several UK CG stations.
 
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