Role & Responsibility
Her Majesty’s Coastguard (HMCG) is an integral part of the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) which is an executive agency within the Department for Transport.
The MCA’s vision is to be a world class organisation that is committed to preventing loss of life, continuously improving maritime safety and protecting the environment.
The MCA’s response to emergencies is undertaken by Her Majesty’s Coastguard which is responsible for the initiation and co-ordination of civil maritime search and rescue within the United Kingdom Search and Rescue Region. This includes the mobilisation, organisation and tasking of adequate resources (e.g. RNLI, RAF, Royal Navy, CG helicopters and Coastguard Rescue Teams) to respond to persons either in distress at sea or to persons at risk of injury or death on the cliffs or shoreline of the United Kingdom including certain designated inland waters e.g. Lake District.
HMCG is a “Blue Light” emergency service and if anyone should have any concerns about anything they have seen on the sea or shoreline they should on land dial 999 and ask for the coastguard or if at sea contact the coastguard on marine radio Channel 16 (the international maritime distress frequency).
HMCG is organised into a number of SAR (Search and Rescue) areas each under the command of a Coastal Safety Manager. Each area contains two Maritime Co-ordination Centres (MRCC), with a common command, control and communications system enabling either MRCC to provide mutual support during emergency response operations. Each area is divided into three or more Sectors and each Sector contains two or more rescue teams manned by the Volunteer Coastguard Rescue Service (CRS). The rescue teams in each Sector are managed by a full time Coastguard Officer known as the Sector Manager and each rescue team is supervised locally by a Station Officer who is an experienced volunteer member of the team.
The Coastguard Rescue Service
The Coastguard Rescue Service (CRS) is an organisation of Coastguard Rescue Teams (CRT’s) that are positioned at strategic locations around the coast. Each CRT is equipped to deal with incidents appropriate to the risks associated with local coastal terrain and local shoreline activities and conditions. All CRT’s have a search capability and in addition, many have a cliff and/or mud rescue capability. Each CRT has an initial response capability for investigation, surveillance and reporting purposes but in some locations where no CRT exists, small teams known as Initial Response Teams (IRT) have been established to provide initial response.
The Coastguard Rescue Service is made up of men and women known as Coastguard Rescue Officers (CRO’s) who have independent full time jobs in all walks of life, who, like the RNLI, are volunteers on page 24/7, 365 days per year and who give up their spare time to assist others injured or in danger on the coast and at sea and also take part in a varied training programme covering most aspects of Search and Rescue e.g. Search (LANDSAR) techniques, Planning and Incident Control, Rope Rescue, Mud Rescue, Communications, First Aid, Water Rescue etc.
Amble Coastguard Rescue Team
The team consists of twelve volunteer Coastguard Rescue Officers who are all trained in search and rescue techniques and with some of them also trained up as technicians and/or operators as part of the Amble Sector Coastguard Rope Rescue Team South. The team are based in Coquet Street, Amble (next to the Boatyard) and are equipped with a 4 wheel drive Coastguard Rescue Vehicle that carries all the equipment required for the team to carry out their Search and Rescue Role. The rope rescue equipment that may be required for certain incidents, is located at our North flanking station, Howick Coastguard.
Early History of Amble Coastguard
Earliest records on file show that a brigade of coastguards was located at Amble as far back as 1858.
The first coastguard officers were located in the Old Coastguard Cottages overlooking the Little Shore. The cottage nearest the sea at the landward end of the South Breakwater had a boathouse where a rowing boat was housed. Remains of the boat ramp into the Little Shore can still be seen. It is understood that this was used prior to a lifeboat being introduced by the Royal National Lifeboat Institute and was manned by the coastguard officers.
The equipment for the coastguards at this time was housed in a stone built cart shed. This was located in an area about 200 metres to the South of an area known locally as the “Rocket Hill”.
In here was kept a cart which carried a heavy hawser and a heath jackstay for the breeches buoy. Horses for the cart were provided by a Mr. Douglas of Bondicarr Farm at the time.
This team situated on the South of the Coquet was known as the “Heavy Brigade” and was alerted by means of three mortar maroons that were fired from a wooden box sunk into the sand – hence the name “The Rocket Hill”.
The Original heavy brigade cart shed was sold to the then Amble Urban District Council on 11 November 1958.
Eight years after the station had been built on the South side of the river, it was recognised that there was a need for rescue equipment on the North side of the River Coquet. Therefore, in 1866, a “Light Brigade” was set up at a housing station on the North side of the river in a location approximately opposite the marina.
The “Light Brigade” carried lighter whips and they were enhanced to a heavy heath jackstay team in 1934. Their callout was by way of four mortar maroons. Horses for the team on the North side were provided by Mr. Johnstone of Northfield Farm.
The station on the North side was closed down on 22 August 1952 about the same time as the closure of the RAF Search and Rescue base that was also situated on the North Side to recover pilots downed in the North Sea during the Second World War.