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Coastguard first in world to use new equipment

16 November 2010

Jersey will be the first place in the world to use new search and rescue equipment designed to help pinpoint anybody or anything lost at sea.

The technology is the latest version of an internationally recognised Search and Rescue Information System (SARIS IV) and is based on years of maritime and coastguard experience. The system can predict the movement of a target (for example a person lost overboard, a boat  or an area of pollution) using the same methods developed by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency, such as knowledge of the tides, winds and tidal currents in the area.

Captain Rick Masterman is the coastguard and VTS manager in Jersey and he believes the new equipment will complement and support local sea search and rescue operations.

He said “This will be an incredible addition to the tools we use when we launch a search and rescue operation in the territorial waters of Jersey. Traditionally we have used nautical charts and careful statistical calculations to help pinpoint the predicted movement of somebody or something lost overboard, which when coupled with the knowledge of the local tides is a very precise and skilled technique. This will now be supported by this new equipment.

"However, it is important to recognise that nothing is ever 100% guaranteed – the waters around Jersey are particularly affected by strong tidal currents. Any search and rescue operation is of course affected by many variables such as the nature of the weather, the location of the incident and the time of day. We live in an island, so of course the sea is a vital part of our lives and anything that can potentially help to protect the safety of Islanders and the marine environment of Jersey is vitally important.”

The new search and rescue technology has already been fitted in the Jersey Coastguard control room and staff based there have completed a 3-day intensive course to learn how to operate the new equipment.

Ian Smith, Project Manager at BMT ARGOSS, is responsible for SARIS 4 development and implementation. He said “We have listened to the growing needs of the search and rescue community and Jersey Coastguard has been instrumental in working with us to develop this important equipment. They have helped us improve the electronic logging system and update the vital search and rescue systems which will be used during emergencies. We believe that the advanced capabilities of this equipment will make it a very powerful tool for coastguards involved during search and rescue operations.”

The coastguards will also be able to use a new electronic logging system which will keep track of all incidents at sea.

CEO and Harbour Master, Howard Le Cornu said “The money for this vital new equipment was planned for and set aside from existing harbours budgets 2 years ago. The cost of £42,000 covered the installation of the search and rescue equipment, the logging system and 9 days of intensive in-house training with an experienced expert. The new resource is seen as a valuable and long term investment, with potentially life-saving benefits.”

Last year Jersey Coastguard received 175 call outs, which includes all incidents at sea such as body recovery, full search and rescue operations, vessel break downs, reports of pollution or flare sightings. So far this year the Jersey Coastguard team have responded to 140 call outs.

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