I’m sometimes asked what I love most about the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Is it the commitment to saving lives at sea? The drive to find alternative ways of fuelling shipping? Or the determination to keep finding better ways of making our seafarers safe in their jobs.
Well, yes, it is all of those things and others beside. But more, much more than this, what I love most is the people. The brilliant, creative, hard-working people whose dedication and sacrifice to safer lives, safer ships and cleaner seas makes all of these things possible.
Take Her Majesty’s Coastguard. For two hundred years, coastguards have watched over our safety at the coast and at sea. The same self-sacrifice in our 19th century ancestors can be found in those who drop everything to answer the call to those in distress. They may have faced different challenges to us in delivering that service but at heart, the principles remain the same.
We look back to look forward. HM Coastguard continues to look for new and even better ways to save lives at sea. In the coming years, there will be a new aviation service which is currently going through a complex and rigorous contracts process. I can’t say too much now but we are very excited about what the next generation of air support for search and rescue might look like.
If you ever travel on a ferry, cruise ship or any other type of commercial vessel, there’s another group of people to be grateful to - our surveyors and our regulators. You may not see them but you’d soon know if they weren’t there to do their work. Seafarers can carry out their work knowing they are protected by the laws and rules written into law by our MCA team and enforced by our surveyors and regulatory compliance team.
You can board a UK-flagged ship knowing that it will have been surveyed to the absolute top standards in the world. We continue to look at how we deliver surveys and review how they are done, finding better ways to support the industry without compromising safety. And we continue to drive forward innovation in cleaner fuel technology as all of us recognise that there is no option to stand still with the future of the planet at stake.
We’re just one month in to 2022. The scale of the tasks facing the MCA are enormous and the challenges can’t be underestimated. But the people I remain so proud to work with will face each one of those head-on with their skills and determination. And they will strive day and night to bring about safer lives, safer ships and cleaner seas.