Members of the Coastguard SOS team made the (very long for some) journey up to Greenock for the flotilla/demonstration against the closure of Clyde MRCC. This was a significant gesture as Clyde is the second HM Coastguard station to close in just a few weeks’ time.

The demonstration was peacefully run by the local campaign group and culminated in the setting of red distress flares …. there had been warnings by Strathclyde Police not to do so!.. see quote:

“Whilst members of the public are welcome to gather on land or on boats or vessels to show their support for the event, the setting off of red distress flares for anything other than a genuine emergency is illegal under the Merchant Shipping Act. Anyone who does so might be subject to an investigation by officers from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.”

An irresponsible act?

Well, that really depends upon your viewpoint…  a pure legal stance..  it is breaking the law but many would argue that fair warning was given and there was no malicious intent.

Flares are let off with a dispensation from HM Coastguard; this can be for training purposes or an exercise.

There have been high profile examples of Olympians letting off orange smoke flares without any repercussions.

Orange smoke flares are designated as a daytime distress signal and red light flares are designated as night/day distress signal.

There is another argument… “situations will occur from time to time of which all, or almost all, right thinking people—the “common people” would say that it would be right to break the letter of the law

Here we have a situation where the ‘normal’ processes of complaint and dialogue have been dismissed by the Government.

The ‘common people’ are in distress about the loss (against their will) of rightful protection and service from HM Coastguard which is funded by the people.

The frustrations of the good people of the Clyde area were borne out tonight in a show of unity & purpose.

If any prosecutions are forthcoming against any of the participants, then the letter of the law must be upheld against all… including … the windsurfer, the canoeists, the 40-50 boats… the Sea Cadets that lined the shore and the Olympians that appeared on the TV.

There is also a warning from campaigners… should any tragedy be attributed to the loss of a Coastguard Station against the will of the people, then those who failed to listen to us, MUST be prosecuted to the fullest extent !

I am proud to have travelled up to Scotland & witnessed the voice of the common people.

Written by CoastalJoe


As I watched tonight’s protest … I could not fail to notice how a considerable number of Parachute Flares failed to deploy properly or reach any height.  Perhaps this was a good demonstration of just how unreliable some of these emergency devices are.

I recommend that the Maritime & Coastguard Agency spends some time investigating the reliability of these devices.


  1. Dear sir
    As a former CGO I am totally disgusted at the actions of MRCC Clyde in their blatant disregard for maritime law, what they have started now , they are giving the thumbs up to any ned to let off at will a red distress flare (and we allno they don’t need much encouragement) . During my time as a CGO we spent many hours trying to educate people to behave responsible and advising them of the time wasted by staff at MRCCs in their attempt too locate and rescue people allegedly in Distress.

    So to have an event that says” it’s ok, we can do this as we are closing!!” sorry but that’s a poor excuse for breaking the law. I would like to bring your attention to the old argument that ” whilst we were dealing with this, other emergencies could have been effected” something that we are told to bring to the publics attention, that now means its absolute bull shite.

    I have been a supporter of every CG station fight against closure but I will not support active law breaking, even if the cause is as good as this one, by all means have rallies, petitions, have the staff run a marathon naked on a freezing cold day I’m sure that will get some media attention but don’t break the law.

    Written by disgusted james

    • Thank you for your comments James. Your concerns are understandable but I would point out that MRCC Clyde were in no way complicit in the event on Friday evening. The Flare Friday Flotilla event was organised by the Save Clyde Coastguard Campaign Team and their own concerns were obvious. Nobody wanted to be arrested for breaking the law and I can vouch that the organisers gave strict instructions to those attending in regards to the setting off of the flares. Clyde Coastguard were informed that this would only take place within a strictly confined area of the Clyde under the watchful eye of station officers and a significant Police presence. Strict set time-scales were observed by everyone. These “rules” were put in place to ensure the safety of anyone who by misfortune might have required assistance at that very time on a different part of the coast. From a national Coastguard SOS Campaign point of view, several of us travelled a considerable distance to show support for the station, the organisers and the area of the West coast of Scotland that will be affected. We are all proud to have taken part in such a magnificent display of peaceful protest but our actions do not condone the illegal use of flares – far from it in fact.

  2. I was also there at the Flare Friday event in a sea kayak. Just a comment on your NB – I think at least some of the participants were using out of date flares or ones which had got wet at some time – that could at least partly explain the high percentage of misfires.

  3. Jacquie Johnstone

    Seems to me these days, any form of protest against this self appointed quango of rich men now known as coalition of Torydems is to be deemed illegal, as I saw recently disabled people being manhandled by Police.
    No excuse for the destruction of these islands Coastguards, we are told do not dismantle smoke alarms they save lives, however this crowd of fools who are legislating the cuts are doing just that with the lives of sea users and indeed people who live on terra firma.
    Coastguards are used for many scenarios not just rescuing ships/boats from the sea, the are a standby for seriously injured /ill people on land along with multitude other duties.
    The columnist wrote any lives lost the people who brought about these cuts should be prosecuted , I have said this as well,cutting a service designed to save lives is a premeditated act and these people should be held accountable if there is a tragedy which would have been avoided then the charge should be murder. Politicians playing with peoples lives.

  4. I think that you should organise and take your demonstrations straight to the heart of the government – ie. London otherwise they will pay no attention to you or any of us. Listening to Radio 5 last Friday night it would appear that the government is taking no notice of e-petitions see the results of Virgin Rail, who had 155,000 petitioners. Miss Greening, Secretary of State for transport appears to have no conscience and no care about the reductions not the effect that they will have on the rescue services. In Weymouth and Portland they propose to close the Air Base and provide cover from the surrounding areas. This will stretch the cover and not save money!!

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