Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil raised concerns with the Minister of State for Transport Legislation and Maritime, John Hayes MP in October about delays in the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) process of tasking Lifeboats following a distress call.

]Mr MacNeil subsequently met with the Maritime Minister John Hayes MP and Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive, MCA who have now followed up on this meeting with a letter confirming what steps have been taken since the tragic loss of the fishing vessel Louisa.

The MCA has confirmed with Mr MacNeil that they take MAIB recommendations very seriously and that they have taken prompt action to address the shortcomings identified in the Louisa Report.  The MCA has also confirmed that their standard operating procedure has been reviewed and updated regularly since the incident.

The Maritime Minister has also confirmed that he will be arranging a round-table discussion in the New Year to follow up on this issue.

Angus MacNeil MP said:“The MCA has confirmed that the procedure now includes the requirement to treat all alerts with position information as distress alerts and take immediate action. Steps have also been taken to improve staff training.

“There seems to be no movement by the MCA on the point I raised that the MCA withholding their telephone number when making calls, this prevents people from phoning back if they miss the call - this is crucial.  During the meeting the MCA accepted this was an issue, however, there is no reference to it in the letter from Sir Alan Massey and I will be asking the MCA to clarify this point.

“As I have previously said, RNLI crews would rather be called to a false alarm than to be called out late to an emergency.

“I am pleased that this issue is getting the serious attention it deserves and that the Maritime Minister will be arranging a further meeting in the New Year.”