MRCC Stornoway

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MRCC Stornoway

History of Stornoway Coastguard

Stornoway Coastguard has been safeguarding our shores for more than 100 years.

A prominent MP John Chamberlain (father of Neville Chamberlain British Prime Minister at the outbreak of World War II) had visited the Isle of Lewis in 1887. As a result of this visit, John Chamberlain was prompted to write to the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Hamilton to take advantage of Islanders sea faring knowledge and set up a Coastguard Service. Mr Chamberlain received a positive response and Stornoway Coastguard was born.

Although early station records have been lost, it is fair to say there has been a Coastguard service in Stornoway since the 1890’s.

The first Coastguard Station was located at Battery Point, Stornoway. In 1933 saw the dawn of a new era for the Islands when a telephone connection was established with the mainland. Shortly after this, Stornoway Coastguard relocated to Holm point where it remained until June 1982. After that, the home of Stornoway Coastguard became the top floor of the Clydesdale Bank in South Beach Street.

The Coastguard Station as we know it today began operating in Stornoway as HM Coastguard, “Clan Macquarrie House”, Battery Point, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. On 31st May 1994 when Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, then Minister of Aviation and Shipping officially opened the purpose built Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC).

The station is named after one of the most arduous and successful wreck services ever provided by Coastguards, which occurred on the 31st January 1953. The Steamship “Clan Macquarrie” ran aground at Borve on the Isle of Lewis. It resulted in all sixty-six crew from the Steamship being rescued by Hawser and Breeches Buoy. The Ship, a wartime “Liberty” construction, was hard aground in Northerly winds reported to be in excess of 100 Knots.

More information about who servered at Stornoway Coastguard between 1871 & 1901 and be found HERE.

Types of Incidents we deal with

At Stornoway Coastguard we are trained to respond too and co-ordinate many different types of Incidents including, but not limited too:

  • Aviation Incidents
  • Broken Down Vessels
  • Capsized Vessels
  • Cliff Incidents
  • Civil Contingencies – Assisting Other Emergency Services
  • Collisions between Vessels
  • Diving Related Incidents
  • Explosive Ordnance Incidents
  • Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) alerts
  • Ferry or Cruise Ships Incidents
  • Fire and Chemical incidents
  • Flare Reports
  • Land search – Missing Persons
  • Major Incidents
  • Man Overboard Incidents
  • Medical Evacuations from Land or Sea
  • Overdue Vessels
  • Pollution Incidents
  • Radio Medical Advice to the Maritime Users

A brief example of some of these different types of incidents we have dealt with over the last 10 years:

  • 2000
    On the 16 th of October 2000 Stornoway Coastguard coordinated the rescue of fifteen people from MV Elektron after the vessel ran aground in Village Bay, St Kilda. The Rescue Helicopter from Stornoway was tasked and winched all crew and passengers to safety although the vessel was being battered on the rocks.
  • 2001
    MRCC Stornoway coordinated the evacuation of 9 crewmen from Fv Hansa after the vessel had sunk 200 miles South West of Barra.
  • 2002
    MRCC Stornoway coordinated the longest sea rescue ever by a Search and Rescue Helicopter in UK History. The Stornoway based helicopter “Mike Uniform” flew 574 Nautical Miles to rescue a crew member from the Fishing Vessel “Nuska” after he had fallen catching his hand in a fish skinning machine.
  • 2003
    MRCC Stornoway coordinated the rescue of seven crew members from MV Jambo, which ran aground off the Summer Isles, North West of Ullapool. The vessel then sunk with a cargo of 3300 tonnes of Sphlerite Mineral Ore. MRCC Stornoway initiated the actions within the UK National Contingency plans which ensured the cargo was taken off the vessel minimising the impact of the environment.
  • 2004
    MRCC Stornoway coordinated the rescue of eight crew from the Tug Vanguard which had run aground and capsized in the Inner Sound of Skye.
  • 2005
    Stornoway Coastguard co-ordinated 24 Incidents on the night of 11th January after some of the worst winds in living memory hit the Western Isles. Coastguard teams assisted the other emergency services throughout the 110 mph winds. Services included the 3 days of searching for 5 members of the same family who were tragically lost during the storm.
  • 2006
    Stornoway Coastguard coordinated a number of Incidents involving yachts during the round Britain race in June during unexpected Gales.
  • 2007
    In November the new helicopter, a Sikorsky s-92, carried out its first successful mission. Stornoway Coastguard in liaison with Scottish Ambulance Service arranged the medical evacuation of a pensioner from Kinlochbervie to Raigmore Hospital.
  • 2008
    Stornoway Coastguard coordinated the rescue of 14 Spanish fishermen from FV Spinningdale after they had ran aground off the cliffs in Village Bay St Kilda. The Coastguard Helicopter from Stornoway airlifted all the crewmen to safety.
  • 2009
    Stornoway Coastguard coordinated a land search for one man and his dog lost in the fog on the Pentland Moor on Lewis. They were found after the man used the camera on his phone to attract the helicopter. Coastguard teams from throughout the Island worked together to provide a search of the area in difficult conditions.
  • 2010
    Cargo vessel Red Duchess broke down of the Isle of Rum in November. Stornoway Coastguard tasked Mallaig RNLI Lifeboat to assist. The Lifeboat managed to keep the vessel off the rocks until the Coastguard Tug Anglian Prince arrived on scene and was contracted to tow the Vessel to Stornoway.
  • Nuclear Submarine Incidents
    6 November 2002 HMS Trafalgar ran aground North West Of Skye
    22 October 2010 HMS Astute ran aground in the Inner Sound of Skye.

Below are brief numbers and some of the types of some of the incidents we at Stornoway Coastguard have coordinated over the last few years.

Animal rescues 64
Ordnance Incidents 82
Red Flare Reports 114
Diving Incidents 61
Medical evacuations from land and sea 181
Cliff Rescues or Shoreline Searches 291
Pleasure Craft Incidents 370
Fishing Vessel Incidents 499


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