Timetable for Save Clyde Coastguard’s ‘Flare Friday’ Red Flare Flotilla

(Updated below on political supporters) This Friday, 31st August, Save Clyde Coastguard is holding a dramatic demonstration to enable the naval, shipping and leisure sailing worlds and the widespread public, to show their determination to support the saving from closure of Clyde Coastguard to a successful conclusion.

A flotilla off the Clyde Coastguard HQ in the Navy Buildings on the Greenock headland will simultaneously fire red distress flares – which signal a need for assistance – after the start of the short but powerful event.

National and local news teams will be present to record the event. Media support has been described by the campaign team as ‘outstanding’.

Members of the nationwide Coastguard SOS campaign will be there.

Clyde Coastguard will close at the end of 2012 if the shipping industry, the leisure sailing sector and the public do not prevent it.

For Spectators

The event will begin at  8.00pm on 31st August from the coastline of the Navy Buildings, Eldon Street, Greenock.

The best vantage point for spectators is on the Esplanade near the Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club.

The campaign is installing a sound system to let spectators listen in on the conversations between the Flotilla and the Coastguard.

The lighting of the Red Flares at around 8.15pm will be accompanied by Flares.

Members of the Public are asked NOT TO LIGHT ANY FLARES ONSHORE.  These can be very dangerous, especially in confined spaces and in crowds.

Boats joining the Red Flare Flotilla

The Flotilla – members and organisers – will use Channel 12 VHF throughout. Flotilla members are asked to be sure  NOT to use Channel 16, the emergency channel.

Boats joining the flotilla are asked to be at the muster point (off the coast of Navy Buildings, Eldon Street, Greenock) for no later than 20.00, when the event will begin.

Boats are asked NOT to fire their flares outside of the given times or outwith the stated area. Such flares would be treated by the Coastguard as a genuine emergency.

After the Flares have been extinguished, there will be a minute’s applause to involve the members of the public and  crews in showing their support for the Coastguard.

After this the Flotilla Organiser will give a final thank you and good luck message to Clyde Coastguard on Channel 12.

Each vessel in the Flotilla is invited to repeat their own message of thanks and best wishes whilst departing the Flotilla and making their way onward to their destination.

The entire event will take around half an hour.

All boats forming the Red Flare Flotilla are being given the following timetable:

  • 20:00: Already mustered boats address Clyde Coastguard HQ
  • 20.05: Confirm ready with Land Crew ready who will confirm flotillla ready
  • 20.10: Crews on Deck with Flares Ready
  • 20.13: Crews asked to Standby and await visual/audio confirmation from Flotilla Organiser to release Flare. Flotilla Organiser will signal BEGIN FLARE BURN by firing his/her Flare and calling on Channel 12 to Boat Crews to light their Flares.
  • 20.15 – 20.20: FLARES LIT AND BURNING. There will be a Channel 12 message to extinguish at 20.20.
  • 20.21: Applause for flotilla from Shore Crew
  • 20.22: VHF Message of thanks and best wishes from Flotilla Organiser who then departs.
  • 20.23: flotilla boats also depart.
  • 20.30: All Vessels will be underway and crowds departing.

If you see a flare outwith this area or outside this time

Report it to the Coastguard at once.

The Red Flares from the flotilla demonstration are to be released between 8:15pm-8:20pm and only in the area being specified and off the Clyde Coastguard HQ at the Navy Buildings on Eldon Street, on the Greenock headland.

If you spot a Red distress flare outside of these times and outwith this location, please report it as a genuine Emergency and let the Coastguard handle it.

Recruit support

Use all of your personal contacts with boat owners, boat clubs, the Royal Navy, the shipping industry, commercial shipping and shipping services to make sure they know of the event and that they have representation there – preferably afloat.

Let’s see the ferries we pay to use, the tugs that sheepdog the maritime world everywhere, the pilots, the supply boats, the Royal Navy – long time users of the Clyde, tourist experience boats, fishing boats, dive boats, private boats, yacht clubs, RIBS…

Let’s see one massive public signal of the strength of support for the imperative of the Clyde Coastguard service.

Let’s see the sky off Greeock turned brilliant red on Friday night.

For Argyll has asked local and national politicians for the area to use their own contacts in the maritime world to recruit support in presence at the event on Friday.

Political Supporters: Argyll and Bute Council

  • Councillor Michael Breslin is making appropriate contacts.
  • Councillor George Freeman is passing on the word.
  • Councillor Bruce Marshall has contacted Clydeport and Holy Loch Sailing Club.

Political Supporters: Scottish Parliament

  • Stuart McMillan MSP for West of Scotland us getting to work on his contacts. He is Convenor of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism so he has contacted the members of the group. He has also mentioned they event on his Twitter page, which has around 1,200 followers.
  • Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton, has been emailing contacts in yacht clubs and commercial shipping.

We will record here those others who do the same. Who would not?

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8 Responses to Timetable for Save Clyde Coastguard’s ‘Flare Friday’ Red Flare Flotilla

  1. Great article and looking forward to having you folks over for the event. We’ve had great support from both around the UK including Wales, but also further afield with supporters in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India. Everyone knows abour our plight and the tragic case of deaths in the past 24hrs following a boating accident in Gairloch only serve to bring focus to the risks involved by removing our busiest Coastguard Centre in Scotland. Thank you and wish you and your readers all the very best :)

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  2. Very interested to see if this protest is actually allowed to go ahead…. not only is it completely illegal, it is a case of closing the barn door after the horse has already bolted!!

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    • John – major correction – this horse did not bolt
      It was driven away. The campaign is to retrieve the horse and get it back safely into a stable in the interests of those who ride the sea in this massive sea area.

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      • Either way, it is illegal and will not make a difference. Some serious flaws with this event:

        1. The coastguard don’t monitor 12, it’s Clydeport’s working chanel, and I’m pretty sure they won’t be too happy about it being used for this. A marine working channel should be used instead
        2. Every seafarer is required to report every sighting of a distress flare – therefore, regardless of whether it is, or is not, an organised event, every commercial operator and indeed any leisure sailor worth their salt will be reporting this and responding immediately. Anyone that has watched the titanic knows what can happen when a distress signal is ignored!
        3. Have you ever tried to extinguish a flare?! Not possible i’m affraid…
        4. Will those that fire the red flares be prosecuted for doing so? If not, can we see a letter of dispensation from the relevant authorities?
        5. Flares are extremely dangerous – is it that sensible for soo many vessels to be firing them in such close proximity?
        6. What if there is a real emergency, which is missed in all the confusion of false alarms due to reports of flares?!

        Is it not ironic that a tribute to the coastguard has been organised which breaks the very principles that they stand for and the laws that they are there to enforce?!

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  3. Pingback: Argyll News: Support SaveClydeCoastguard’s Flare Friday – tomorrow | For Argyll

  4. Thanks for discussing the issue on your forums. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to do anything they were uncomfortable doing, so if you aren’t looking to fire flares in support of the call, that’s fine.
    The elephant in the room is the definition of “International Distress Signal”. We are “Distressed” at the fact our lives will be put at risk by unnecessary closure of the Clyde base. Every economic argument, every statistic and everyone has spoken at length why these changes absolutely no sense.
    Despite this, despite the marches, despite the e-petitions, despite the canvassing of MPs & MSPs the only thing that remains is the Governments willingness to put our lives on the West coast of Scotland in danger. If that thought alone doesn’t make you distressed, then I don’t know what will. Local knowledge is key to you and your loved ones getting assistance quickly and where you need it… case in point we’ve got two Loch Gairlochs’ (spelling different, but sound exactly the same) we’ve also got three towns which sound like Tarbet… What about Clyde CG being busier than Aberdeen, the UK’s Oil exploration capital? What about the UK’s two strategic Nuclear Naval bases, the Clyde Ferry shipping traffic, the export shipping, Cruise ships, the Fishing industry, the climbers… they could even be getting a paramedic up your snow-covered street in 4×4′s.
    Coastguards didn’t cause the budget-deficit and it’s about time someone made this crystal clear. On a lighter note, the event is actually aimed at our demonstrating collective thanks to the Coastguard staff (who are under gagging orders btw) for saving countless lives on our coast over the years. This is about them first and foremost.
    As for the flares, just ask Ellen McArthur, the Thames Jubilee Flotilla or indeed Mr David Beckham during the Olympics what he thinks about red flares.
    Hope to see you there, flare or not. I’m sure the CG will appreciate you showing up and thanks again for discussing the issue :)
    Kindest Regards,
    Save Clyde Coastguard Campaign

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  5. ‘We are “Distressed” at the fact our lives will be put at risk by unnecessary closure of the Clyde base’
    Distress is defined as the grave and imminent danger to life.

    I am a merchant seafarer and as such i have a great respect for the people who watch over our coastal waters regardless of who you are. The importance of this work should never be dismissed.

    I have stood on the bridge of a ship listening to the voice of a fellow seafarer on stricken vessel foundering over 400 miles away from me knowing i was helpless to aid them. Praying that someone would make it on time to save them. Hearing the fear in the mans voice, the prospect of death for his entire crew. Listening to his distress where there was grave and imminent danger his life. My cadet in tears because we could do nothing but plotting and calculating our RV to his position so if we were the closest we could give him some hope that someone heard him; to hear albeit the US coastguard communicating with them and coordinating their rescue in the pacific ocean putting our fears for them at little at ease.

    Yes the cutback is disgusting and i have nothing but admiration for the rescue workers who strive to save the persons in distress putting themselves in danger to do so. They strive to save life in fair weather and foul and we thank them for this.
    The Coastguard do their best to co ordinate rescue regardless of size of ship, nationality, responsibility for the accident. They never say no we are not coming to help you because it is your fault you went aground. Any seafarer worth their salt would not and could not leave another sailor professional or pleasure in distress. We look we search and we never take for granted that we will make it safely to port the unforeseen happens and our hearts break at the loss of any life at sea; deep sea or coastal; salt water or fresh. I could not live with myself if I had not done all I could to assist.

    Many things anger me disregard for the seafaring history of this nation is one of them. Disregard for life is another. I appreciate the detailed time table for the action tonight however I will not attend because as I said earlier the definition of distress is the grave and imminent danger. Red flares indicate this. We are taught at college and at sea our responsibilities; the penalties that we can expect for disregard for the national and international laws.

    Although you have advertised this very well and have reached out to the commercial shipping aspect what of the foreign master heading to the pilot station at kempock point seeing these red flares appear in front of him, it is not his fault he is not aware of the demonstration tonight but if there is a ship he will immediately believe this is a real indication of distress. There has been no issue of a local notice to mariners on this issue.

    I do not want it to be inferred that I am saying it is ok to close the MRCC. I do not believe it is and the local action is commendable however it is an offense to release red flares except where there is grave and imminent danger to life and as per the definition of the law this is not strictly the case tonight.

    SOLAS Chapter V regulation 33
    “Distress situations: obligations and procedures
    “This obligation to provide assistance applies regardless of the nationality or status of such persons or the circumstances in which they are found.”

    Solas ( Safety of life at sea ) Chapter V regulation 35
    The use of an international distress signal, except for the purpose of indicating that a person or persons are in distress, and the use of any signal which may be confused with an international distress signal are prohibited.


    There have been instance of prosecution for the deliberate misuse of distress flares

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