From its beginnings with coastal lookouts to today’s hi-tech national network of coordination centres, one thing has stayed the same for the past 2 centuries – Her Majesty’s Coastguard seeks to search, to rescue and to save. 

200 years of saving lives along the UK coast and at sea, as well as coordinating rescues for those in distress in international waters, is being marked this year as HM Coastguard celebrates its milestone anniversary.

It was on 15th January 1822 that HM Coastguard was formally brought into existence and has been working to keep people safe at the coast and at sea ever since.

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In honour of that birthday, at 11:00 this morning coastguards cast throwlines into the sea as a symbol of the service’s dedication – past and present. Bembridge Coastguard Rescue Team was 1 of the local teams taking part in the anniversary event, photographed above at St Helens Duver.

HM Coastguard has gone from strength to strength over the past 200 years. In 2022, coastguard operations centres coordinate responses to emergency situations calling on 310 Coastguard Rescue Teams – made up of 3,500 dedicated volunteers – and using 10 search and rescue helicopter bases.

Here on the Isle of Wight, volunteers operate out of Bembridge, Ventnor and The Needles with support from Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 175 at Lee-on-Solent.

HM Coastguard work alongside other emergency services to search for, and save, those in trouble at the coast.

Although the way in which the Coastguard operates has changed beyond recognition, HM Coastguard continues to look to the future and continues to adapt to modern day requirements.

Maritime Minister Robert Courts has said:

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“Congratulations HM Coastguard on their 200-year anniversary. I am immensely proud and humbled by the continued dedication and professionalism from the staff and volunteers which ensures everyone’s safety on our shores and around our coast.

“HM Coastguard is the backbone of our maritime sector and the nation is indebted to its incredible workforce which continues to deliver an exceptional service”.

Ventnor Coastguard Rescue team out in snowy weather, providing mutual aid to the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service

Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard said:

“When you look at how we started and where we are now, it’s easy to celebrate the innovation and development that can be seen throughout the service. And yet, we are far more proud of the people, the volunteers and the staff who throughout two centuries have continued to strive to keep people safe at the coast and out at sea. We always have and always will respond to those in distress.

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“While this milestone is an opportunity for us to look back with pride on what we’ve achieved, we have always looked to the future, and I’m proud that we continue to look for ways in which to improve and save lives. I’m proud of the commitment, the dedication and selfless sacrifice and I’m proud of how the service has developed and continues to do so.”

Coastal Operations Area Commander Tom Wright said:

“This anniversary is a huge milestone for all of us at HM Coastguard. We wanted to mark the occasion in a way which is unique to us and which demonstrates our commitment to keeping people safe at sea. The symbolic casting of throwlines across the UK today is a reflection of that commitment”.

To celebrate 200 years of HM Coastguard, here are a selection of Island Echo‘s photographs dating between 2009 and 2021…

(The photographs represent procedures and team members at the time and do not necessarily reflect on today’s service)

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The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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I believe
I believe
3 days ago

Worth their weight in gold.

Community Spirit
Community Spirit
2 days ago

Potential heroes, every one. Long may they flourish.


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