Maritime and Coastguard Agency consultation on closure of Marine Offices

Circular No: NP/098/16


Our ref: S1/1 S5/2

30th March 2016

Dear Colleagues

Maritime and Coastguard Agency consultation on closure of Marine Offices

Further to circular no. NP/00173/15 of 22nd September 2015, the MCA has published a consultation proposing the closure of a number of Marine Offices around the UK.

In a move similar to the MCA’s controversial cuts to Coastguards and Coastguard stations under the last Government, over the next three years, the MCA plans to close the Marine Offices in the following locations:

•    Tyne and Plymouth (2017)
•    Beverley, Harwich and Orpington (2018)
•    Norwich (2019)

The MCA plan to open two Marine Offices at sites in Bridlington and Ipswich but, overall, the intention is to cut the national network of Marine Offices from 17 to 10. Three Marine Offices, at Brixham, Leith and Newlyn have already been closed, with no consultation. If the MCA’s plans are approved, by 2019 the UK will be left with ten Marine Offices in the following locations: Aberdeen, Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Liverpool, Falmouth, Southampton, Dover, Ipswich and Bridlington.

Marine Offices provide essential administrative and technical support to seafarer Ratings and Officers across the UK, particularly in keeping documentation updated and providing eye sight tests.

In addition to seafarer support, Marine Offices also provide a base, equipment store and other services for MCA surveyors and inspectors who handle thousands of inspections of domestic and international ships every year which includes carrying out the UK’s Port State Control responsibilities required under international law.

The MCA consultation also proposes a number of changes to its working practices, including moving its Seafarers Documentation System online, a database of surveyor competence and outsourcing of survey and inspection work to ‘Recognised Organisations’ and Red Ensign Group administrations.

The MCA’s proposals result from its Survey and Inspection

Transformation Programme which has been running since January 2015. They are also in line with the Government’s policy to make the MCA more ‘customer focused’ and to make the UK Flag more attractive to international ship owners and operators.

These proposals clearly amount to an attack on seafarer support and a major de-regulation in survey standards. This Government is once again putting the demands of international ship owners, operators and financiers above the needs of UK seafarers.

RMT Shipping Branches and Seafarers are urged to discuss the MCA’s plans and to forward your views to for inclusion in the union’s response.

The consultation document can be downloaded here and a hard copy is attached to this circular:

The MCA has given one month for this consultation, with the deadline for responses currently 21st April. We have, however, written to Alan Massey, Chief Executive of the MCA objecting to this unnecessarily short timeframe and demanding a 90-day rather than 30-day consultation, in order that RMT members can fully express their views on the MCA’s proposals.

It would be appreciated if you could bring the content of this circular to the attention of all branch members and you will be updated with further developments.

Yours sincerely
Mick Cash
General Secretary