Memories of a Coastguard Officer

Flag of HM Coastguard – picture by Bdamokos at the Hungarian Wikipedia; public domain

Coastguard Vesture

Coastguard uniform is as follows: on “shouts” we wear natty blue onesie overalls, for PR work we wear black trousers, pilot’s shirt and tie. Number One uniform is a double-breasted blazer with four rows of buttons, unlike the three rows favoured by downmarket rival naval services.

An Interesting Shout

There was an interesting shout at the weekend. A dog was observed swimming round one of the islands in the Medway. Coastguard and inshore lifeboat were summoned. I am not sure exactly what happened, but I suspect the dog deduced he was in some sort of trouble and mysteriously disappeared.

All-Hands Alert

I was preparing for bed when the pager sounded an all-hands alert. I tore down the stairs and wondered how much it would cost to install a fireman’s pole. It would have been nice to have had my first shout on the day I passed my medical but the mission was aborted. My loved ones tell me I return from a false alarm looking like a small boy who has dropped his ice cream in the mud. 

Mission with a Difference

One dark and stormy night the Coastguard was summoned to a search and rescue mission. One chap lost touch with his mates and his radio battery failed. He saw lights from a house and knocked on the door. An old lady answered. He wore a vivid hi-viz jacket, the pockets bulged with mysterious equipment, he wore industrial strength safety glasses and the light on his blue helmet glowed. “Where are we?” he asked. “Earth,” said the old lady and slammed the door.

One recent exercise involved searching for an aircraft. We split up and did a fingertip search. The “body” of the pilot was lying in a bank of nettles which complicated rendering first aid.

SS Richard Montgomery

In WWII a US Liberty ship carrying munitions sank in the Medway estuary. Every year divers inspect the wreck and announce there to be no danger.

They say that 60+ years under water should render the munitions harmless. I wonder. The worst thing that could happen on this stretch of the coast would be for the ship to explode. Let us hope that the water truly has rendered the munitions safe. 

Further Coastguard adventures to follow.