The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, now within the Department for Transport, had planned to run the entire Scottish Coastguard service form a single centre in Aberdeen.
Various political initiatives and campaigns pulled some of the necessary elements of the service back from the brink; with Shetland Coastguard reprieved.
A national newspaper, on Sunday 2nd June, revealed that this was the result of self-interested political pressure.
Then Transport Secretary, Conservative MP, Philip Hammond, was reported as having been ‘angry’ when he was summoned to the presence of the Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Alistair Carmichael MP and told to revise the plans to cut the Coastguard Service – not because of public or environmental safety but because they would prejudice the security of Mr Carmichael’s Westminster seat. He represents Orkney and Shetland.
As it happens, it was no bad decision Aberdeen coastguard, which would have been responsible for Orkney and Shetland and the sea area including the new oil exploration target of the Clair Ridge, west of Shetland, is having serious problems with retention and recruitment of staff, It is currently operating well under establishment level, as we have reported.
Shetland, on the other hand, is pretty well up to speed and operating well.