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Friday, 15 December, 2000, 07:34 GMT
Coastguard station shuts down
Ascania
The station was commended over the Ascania incident
Pentland Coastguard station in Orkney has made its final broadcast to shipping.

Its operations room has now closed with the loss of 12 jobs.

The long running battle to save the station, supported by the local MSP and Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace, failed to sway the UK Government.

The closure has provoked protests from fishermen, politicians and seafarers who said the changes would put lives at risk.

The Pentland station was earmarked for closure under reforms brought in by the Department of Transport.

Coastguard
New digital equipment has been introduced
A new digital communications network has been installed which, senior coastguard officials said, will make the seas safer.

The Pentland closure came less than three months after another of Scotland's frontline stations at Oban was shut.

Campaigners opposed to the closures said that local knowledge is vital when an emergency occurs such as that involving the chemical tanker Ascania, which caught fire in the Pentland Firth last year.

Staff at the station were subsequently honoured for preventing a major environmental disaster.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency argued that safety will not be compromised and stressed that grassroots knowledge will remain in the form of rescue teams and other support services.

It also insisted that the new digital equipment will improve communications with those at sea.

The Pentland station made its last radio broadcast at midday and its role as a rescue co-ordination centre will be split between the coastguard stations in Shetland and Aberdeen.

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See also:

02 Aug 00 | Scotland
Tanker coastguards praised
29 Sep 00 | Scotland
Coastguard station signs off
08 Aug 98 | UK Politics
Union anger over coastguard closures
18 May 00 | Scotland
RNLI man's bravery award
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