Carmichael responds to Sumburgh coastguard rescue of trawler crew

25 Mar 2024

Responding to the rescue of eight people by the Sumburgh coastguard search and rescue helicopter, after the local whitefish trawler Opportune sank to the east of Shetland on Sunday morning, Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael said:

“If anyone were looking for reasons why quadrupling the coastguard helicopter’s response time is a bad idea, you have eight good reasons right here. Successful operations such as these really go to show just how valuable these services, both professional and voluntary, are to the isles. We cannot appreciate their work enough.

“The blunt truth is that the more you cut back these services the more likely it will be that people fall through the gaps and lives are lost. The proposed change to readiness at Sumburgh would have a material impact on callouts just like this one – particularly as unlike most emergency services on the mainland there is not really any alternative available.

“Suggestions about changing the search and rescue service in the isles must take into account not just the number of callouts handled but the nature of those calls. They are materially different from most other parts of the country.

“We cannot take the safety of people at sea for granted – and we cannot afford to wait until something goes wrong to recognise the danger of reducing coverage.”

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