Wednesday, 17 December 2014

COASTGUARDS RESCUE MAN FROM RIVER TAFF

Coastguards have rescued a man from the River Taff in Cardiff.

Swansea Coastguard was contacted at around 8.30 last night and told that a man had been spotted in the water near Penarth Road bridge, and that he was being dragged along by the current.

The Penarth Coastguard Rescue Team was sent to the scene, along with police, fire and ambulance crews. When Coastguards arrived, the man was no longer swimming and he was struggling to keep his head above water. 

Using water rescue equipment, a Coastguard Rescue Officer was tethered to his team on the river bank and he went into the water. They managed to get to the casualty, pull him up the embankment and hand him over to paramedics. He was then taken to the University of Wales Hospital, Cardiff.

Remember, if you see someone in difficulty, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

ABANDONED STRICKEN FISHING VESSEL CAUSES CONCERN

Humber Coastguard are this afternoon relieved to report that the crew of a stricken fishing vessel, seemingly washed up on the beach at Chapel St Leonards, are safe and well.

Skegness and Chapel coastguards, Skegness RNLI inshore lifeboats and a rescue helicopter were all tasked to the 18ft cobble (fishing boat) reported to the Coastguard as washed up on the beach.

It later transpired the boat had capsized while being launched, throwing the two crew into the water. The crew were found further along the beach, wet and cold but otherwise unhurt.

Graham Dawson, Watch Manager at Humber Coastguard said,

“The crew of this boat were found in time to stand down the major rescue resources we had tasked. However, I would like to take this opportunity to request that boat owners remember to contact the Coastguard straightaway if this sort of event occurs, to avoid any rescue resources being unnecessarily dispatched.

I would also like to remind boat operators that during the launch can often be the most treacherous part of any voyage and to ensure lifejackets are worn at this time”.

WW1 100 YEARS ON - A COASTGUARD REMEMBERED

Coastguards from Whitby are attending a service to commemorate those who died in the German Bombardment of Whitby 100 years ago today.  For HM Coastguard, this is an especially sad day as Coastguard Frederick Randall was killed in the attack. 

During World War One nearly two thousand Coastguards died at sea with 1,459 lost in one battle alone.  Frederick Randall is the only Coastguard who died during the war who is buried on land and the Whitby team will paying their own personal respects to their predecessor who gave his life. 

This is an account of the attack that has been provided to us.

GERMAN BOMBARDMENT OF WHITBY 16 DECEMBER 1914

THE STORY OF A COASTGUARD FATALITY

The funeral of Coastguard Randall
During the opening months of the First World War the Imperial German Navy was seeking opportunities to draw out sections of the British Fleet which it could trap and destroy.  Rear Admiral Franz Hipper, the commander of the German Battlecruiser Squadron, proposed a series of raids on English east coast towns might produce the required effect.  The first targets identified were Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool and the submarine U-17 was sent to investigate the areas and to reconnoitre the existing coastal defences.

Hipper's force included the battlecruisers SMS’ Seydlitz, Von der Tann, Moltke and Derfflinger; the slightly smaller armoured cruiser SMS Blücher, four light cruisers SMS’ Strassburg, Graudenz, Kolberg and Stralsund and 18 destroyers.  Ingenohl took the 85 ships of the German High Seas Fleet to a position just east of the Dogger Bank, where they could assist if Hipper's ships came under attack from larger forces, but were still safely close to Germany as standing orders from the Kaiser instructed.  At 0300 hours on the 15th of December, the ships left the Jade River and headed out across the North Sea. 

Approaching the English coast in the early hours of the 16th of December, the force split up – the Sydlitz the Moltke and the Blücher proceeded to Hartlepool, whilst the Von der Tann and the Derfflinger, accompanied by the Kolberg approached Scarborough, (the destroyers and the other three light cruisers had been ordered back to port as a precaution).  At 0800, whilst the Kolberg laid mines off Flamborough Head, the two battlecruisers opened fire on the town.  Extensive damage was done to prominent buildings including:  Scarborough Castle, the Grand Hotel, several churches and the Railway Station; as well as numerous private dwellings and shops.  Over 500 shells were fired causing 42 deaths, with 153 injured.  At 0830 the bombardment stopped and the battlecruisers moved northwards towards Whitby.  The following extract from the Whitby Times best describes the subsequent chain of events:

“Whitby is still throbbing with excitement over the bombardment of the town in the morning hours of Wednesday, and a considerable number of householders sent their wives and children out of the place by the afternoon trains, to remain out of the way until safety seems assured. in view of the fact that at least a hundred shells were fired into the town, it is remarkable that only two persons were killed, and only one seriously injured.  Many people had extraordinary escapes, for about thirty houses were wrecked or seriously damaged, but most of the inmates were only hit by flying splinters.  The cannonade lasted about seven minutes, and during that time the shells came hurtling over the town with a noise like that of claps of thunder, and with scarcely recognisable intervals between the shots.


POWERFUL BATTLE CRUISERS

It was five minutes past nine o'clock when two enemy ships opened fire.  Just before that time they were seen approaching the coast from the south-east at a tremendous speed by the coastguards at the signalling station, which is prominently situated on the edge of the East Cliff, near the famous Abbey ruins.  One of the men on duty was at the moment hoisting the white ensign, and almost immediately afterwards the warships, now within a mile and a half of Whitby, stopped and started to fire at the signalling station.  The coastguards say that they were powerful battle cruisers of 25,000 tons each, and capable of firing a tremendous weight of metal.



A COASTGUARD SHOT DEAD

The Coastguard lookout at after the attack
The first shot fell short, but the third killed one of the coastguards, Fredrick Randall, a married man who lives in one of the Admiralty cottages.  He had just stepped outside his house when a shell burst close to one of the outbuildings and blew his head clean off.  His wife was in the house at the time.

The firing was continued at a very rapid rate and in the same direction, and the Abbey itself had a fortunate escape from the complete destruction.  Numerous pieces of shell were afterwards found in the vicinity of the building, and there were large gaps in the stone walls of the ancient ruins.  It is not yet clear, however, whether this damage was caused by vibration or direct contact.  The adjacent church of St. Mary was not touched by shellfire, but the windows were broken by the confusion.

The cottage where Coastguard Randall died
When the warships had delivered their devastating message they suddenly turned to the east and disappeared in the mist, as silently as they had come.  The great majority of the shots had passed over the East Cliff, and fell half a mile further on in the region of the railway station, where nearly all of the material damage was done.  Here, in the Fishburn Park district, houses were wrecked right and left, and here it was that the second fatality occurred.  Wiliam H. Tunmore, a railwayman employed on the North-eastern Railway, was the victim.  He was driving a horse and cart at the Bagdale crossing near the railway station when a small shell struck him and killed him on the spot, though the horse was absolutely uninjured.  He was sixty-one years of age, and a married man, his home being in Grey Street.  The only other case was that of an invalid lady, Mrs Miller, of Springhill-terrace, who was hit in the side by a piece of shell while she was lying in bed.

ELEVEN INCH SHELLS

Other persons came off comparatively lightly with cuts and bruises. In some cases nearly the whole front of the house was torn away, and in others the shell fell on the roof and bored a gaping passage down to the kitchen floor.  Furniture of all kinds was smashed, and crockery became none existent.  In one case a projectile fell upon a bed which a young woman had occupied only a short time before.

The coastguards declare that the projectiles were 11 in. shells, and the huge, jagged splinters that have been picked up by the score in various parts of the town indicate that they must have been of very large dimensions.  A good many fell in the fields at Springhill, close to the police station, and here they made holes in the ground large enough to have buried a horse in.

P.C. Bainbridge had a lucky escape.  He was walking to the police station when a shell burst within a few yards of him.  He was splashed with mud and earth, but was otherwise untouched.  If the cannonade had come a few moments earlier, many children's lives would have been endangered.  There are two large fields in the midst of that part of the town which bore the brunt of the firing, and the way to these schools lay right in the path of the bursting shells.”



Whitby Sector Coastguards with the
wreath they are laying later today.
The Hartlepool attack killed 86 civilians and injured 424.  Seven soldiers were killed and 14 injured.  1,150 shells were fired at the town, striking targets including the steelworks, gasworks, railways, seven churches and 300 houses.  Once again people fled the town by road and attempted to do so by train.  Eight German sailors were killed and 12 wounded.  At 08:50, the German ships departed.  All Hipper’s ships returned safely to port.

The sad loss of Coastguardsman Randall was even more tragic given the fact that he had just returned to his post, having been released from naval service as a consequence of the huge loss of coastguards in the North Sea two months earlier in September with the sinking of the three elderly cruisers Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy.

The following extract taken from the obituary column of the Times of the 18th of December 1914, provides us with a little more poignant detail about William Randall:

German Bombardment of Whitby:

The inquest was opened at Whitby today on the bodies of Frederick Randall, Coastguard Boatman, aged 30, and William Edward Tunmore, North-Eastern Railway employee, aged 61, who were killed by shells during the bombardment of the Coastguard Signal Station on the East Cliff by warships of the Imperial German Navy on the 16th December.

C.S.Davey, Chief Officer of Coastguard, in his evidence described the bombardment, stating that the whole fire was directed at the signal station, and common shells, not shrapnel, were fired.  The first shot hit the cliff face, and this gave the Coastguards time to clear out of the signal station, which was demolished by the next shot.  About 100 to 150 shells were fired. Randall emerged from the Coastguard quarters and a shell blew his head off.  He left a wife and four children, the youngest being about six months old.




Monday, 15 December 2014

HOLYHEAD COASTGUARD OPERATIONS CENTRE JOINS NATIONAL NETWORK

Holyhead Coastguard Operations Centre (CGOC) is to become part of the new Coastguard national network for the very first time this week.
Holyhead CGOC

Work has been carried out at the search and rescue coordination centre to upgrade the technology and introduce new systems. This means Holyhead CGOC will be connected to the National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) in Hampshire and other Coastguard stations around the country, which will be able to offer mutual support during busy periods.

From January 2015, Holyhead CGOC and the new national network will start to take on operations from Liverpool Coastguard.

The changes to Her Majesty’s Coastguard will see the NM
OC and 10 other CGOCs around the UK work together to manage the workload. There will be no reduction in rescue resources. The availability of Coastguard Rescue Teams, lifeboats, rescue helicopters and other rescue units will be unaffected.
Holyhead CGOC

Graham Clark, Maritime Operations Controller at Holyhead CGOC, said:


“The way we deliver the coordination of search and rescue operations on our co
ast and out at sea is changing. But the public won't notice any difference. If you call 999 and ask for the Coastguard, or issue a mayday broadcast, we will still be here to help you.

“The new national Coastguard network will be able to oversee and assist with operations around the whole of the UK. Here at Holyhead CGOC we’re now part of this network, so we can call upon help from our fellow Coastguards elsewhere in the country, and also in turn help them out if needed.
Holyhead CGOC

“It’s vital to remember though that the rescue teams in your community are unaffected. There will still be the same number of lifeboats, Coastguard Rescue Teams, helicopters and other rescue resources.”


The new national network is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2015.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

STORM DAMAGED FISHING VESSEL HEADING FOR SHELTER OF WESTRAY

Shetland Coastguard received a DSC (digital selective calling) distress alert at around 5.30am this morning from a 33metre fishing vessel 20nm west-north-west of Westray.

The O’Genita, with 16 people on board, had one of its bridge windows smashed in and some of their equipment had been damaged in the stormy conditions. Wind speed on scene at the time was a force 7 (31–38 mph), with squally showers and lightning in the area.

Shetland Coastguard told the vessel to alter course and head for shelter off Westray. The RNLI all-weather lifeboat from Stromness was sent to the scene to assist. As a precaution, the Coastguard helicopter from Sumburgh stood by at Westray airport and the Westray Coastguard Rescue Team was also alerted.

The O’Genita is now being escorted by the lifeboat and is heading for Westray.

UPDATE: 11.50am Wednesday 10 December 2014

The O'Genita is now safely alongside at Pierowall, Westray.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

COASTGUARD ADVICE AS STORMY WEATHER HITS UK

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for large parts of the UK.

Gales, severe at times, are likely to affect much of the country between today and Thursday (11 December 2014).

In some north western areas, gusts may reach between 70-80mph.

We're also being warned that waves will be unusually high, bringing the risk of localised flooding to some coastal areas.

The Coastguard's advice is simple: don't take risks.

The crashing waves may be spectacular to watch but they are also extremely dangerous. They could quite easily sweep you off your feet, and they could be carrying rocks or other debris that has been churned up along the way.

We would like to urge people to take extra care when they’re out and about, particularly if they’re heading to coastal areas. But if you do get into difficulty, or spot someone who might be in trouble, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Monday, 8 December 2014

FISH CARRIER IN DIFFICULTY OFF CAPE WRATH

At just after 20:00hrs yesterday a Lerwick registered fish carrier ‘Norholm’ informed Stornoway Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre that they had lost engine power and were drifting towards Cape Wrath in a westerly gale. The vessel has four crew and is 32 metres long.

 The ‘Norholm’ tried to use its anchors to keep itself away from the shoreline but this wasn’t working and so Stornoway rescue coordination centre sent the RNLI all-weather lifeboat from Lochinver to the scene to help hold the ‘Norholm’ away from the shoreline. The Coastguard rescue helicopter based in Stornoway was also sent to the scene in case the crew of the ‘Norholm’ needed to abandon their vessel.

The Lochinver lifeboat not only managed to hold the ‘Norholm’ off the shore but succeeded in taking it back out to sea and around Cape Wrath. The Coastguard rescue helicopter has now returned to its base and RNLI all-weather from Thurso is now on their way to the scene to take over from their Lochinver colleagues whilst the tug ‘Herakles’ is on its way from Orkney.


The tug ‘Herakles’ is expected to arrive on scene at around 08:00hrs before the forecast severe gales arrive. Shetland Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre are now coordinating the response as the ‘Norholm’ is now in their area.