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Old 30 March 2008, 17:52   #11
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should they not have designed it to be more robust so that when the incoming MMSI number is displayed on the screen in the opps room it looks up the MMSI and CG66 databases and shows the vessel name too?
Yes, the systems that the Ops Staff have to work with leave much to be desired. (Oddly enough, thats almost exactly what I just typed in an email to someone else on here!) What you suggest is exactly what should happen - but it doesnt at this point in time. And since the Government is only willing to pay Ops Room staff absolute peanuts, you have to think that the MCA are very low on their list of priorities.

Equally, the RYA arent exactly helpful in some of these Comms matters - not that long ago they suggested that everyone should test their DSC Distress Buttons by pushing them! (They later published an apology for the "error"). So I dont hold the RYA as being "God" in these matters.

However I do speak to Ops Room staff who used to be colleagues. All I can do is pass on their views. Those views are in post number 1 on this thread.

Reading the rest of your suggestions, its pretty clear that your view of what goes on in the Ops Room is based on what you have heard on your VHF radio. My view was exactly like yours until I actually spent some time in there.

On a boat, you hear (give or take) about one sixth of what actually goes through the MRCC in radio traffic. Simply because you probably only pick up the transmissions from the local aerial. The Ops Room are looking after that aerial and half a dozen others - and the volumes of traffic are just unbelievable.
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Old 31 March 2008, 10:54   #12
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And since the Government is only willing to pay Ops Room staff absolute peanuts, you have to think that the MCA are very low on their list of priorities.
Hmmm...at the risk of hijacking the thread, not entirely sure the govt. is to blame on that - (much as I hate to do anything which might be seen as defending this bunch of crooks).

The MCA is an agency in control of it's own budget - so the Cardy idiot is solely responsible for CWAs pay.

Given that there's probably around 120 CWAs I would estimate - give each of them 2k a year, around 240k...now I wonder what the total pay bill is for the current MCA board, and which would be noticed more if they weren't in tomorrow...

Sorted!!
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Old 31 March 2008, 14:56   #13
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Yes, the systems that the Ops Staff have to work with leave much to be desired. (Oddly enough, thats almost exactly what I just typed in an email to someone else on here!) What you suggest is exactly what should happen - but it doesnt at this point in time. And since the Government is only willing to pay Ops Room staff absolute peanuts, you have to think that the MCA are very low on their list of priorities.
well I don't imagine its a multimillion pound project to link the two (I don't know the details of the two systems, I'm not a software or electronics engineer but believe I could make it happen!). Clearly the MCA opps room staff are either not effectively communicating the "issue" back up the chain of command to the budget holders or actually its not as big an issue to the overall smooth running of the MCA as the opps room might express.
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Equally, the RYA arent exactly helpful in some of these Comms matters - not that long ago they suggested that everyone should test their DSC Distress Buttons by pushing them! (They later published an apology for the "error"). So I dont hold the RYA as being "God" in these matters.

However I do speak to Ops Room staff who used to be colleagues. All I can do is pass on their views. Those views are in post number 1 on this thread.
I assume you have written to the RYA? I will be interested to here their response - I assume they will discuss this with the MCA unless it was just an omission on their part.
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Reading the rest of your suggestions, its pretty clear that your view of what goes on in the Ops Room is based on what you have heard on your VHF radio. My view was exactly like yours until I actually spent some time in there.

On a boat, you hear (give or take) about one sixth of what actually goes through the MRCC in radio traffic. Simply because you probably only pick up the transmissions from the local aerial. The Ops Room are looking after that aerial and half a dozen others - and the volumes of traffic are just unbelievable.
No I understand that the Ops room is working many ariels at once - so much more traffic than I hear. I am not in the Solent so its nothing like as busy - but perhaps the question the CG (or RYA?) should be asking is "is your call to the CG really necessary?"
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Old 31 March 2008, 15:16   #14
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Hmmm...at the risk of hijacking the thread, not entirely sure the govt. is to blame on that - (much as I hate to do anything which might be seen as defending this bunch of crooks).

The MCA is an agency in control of it's own budget - so the Cardy idiot is solely responsible for CWAs pay.

Given that there's probably around 120 CWAs I would estimate - give each of them 2k a year, around 240k...now I wonder what the total pay bill is for the current MCA board, and which would be noticed more if they weren't in tomorrow...

Sorted!!
Hmmm... the other side of the argument is of course: whilst there are competent people willing to do the job for the money why "waste" taxpayers money paying "over the odds". Simple market forces I am afraid.

In the same vein its easy to look at the "fat cats" at the top and point the finger there - but you need to pay board room salaries to get board room quality people [I am not saying they have / have not achieved that] and therefore to have strategic vision and quality management of the organisation. The damage caused by crap management could be much more noticeable than a CWA not coming in tomorrow.
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Old 31 March 2008, 15:50   #15
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Polwart,

Agree to an extent - yes, you need someone at the top who can display leadership, strategic direction and motivate and inspire those who work within the organisation. And such figures do command boardroom salaries.

But equally, they are usually hallmarked by years of experience in their chosen sector, a track record of achievement, and at least some degree of empathy with their staff.

It just seems that in pretty much every area of the public sector, senior people are willing to take the salary but not provide any of the other bits!

Yes, you can get "competent" CWAs and watch officers, but perhaps applying the "pay to get the best" criteria is as good for the goose as for the gander?
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Old 31 March 2008, 16:02   #16
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Yes, you can get "competent" CWAs and watch officers, but perhaps applying the "pay to get the best" criteria is as good for the goose as for the gander?
Ah - but that argument suggests that our, currently poorly paid, CWAs are not the best available and, rightly or wrongly, that is not a suggestion which people are willing to make.
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Old 31 March 2008, 16:53   #17
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The point Simon was making

Very interesting Thread this one.

Peterb, I wonder if the point Simon was making was mis-interpreted. I suspect he was showing the frustration of it all being a bit unclear,
so much so that I think rather than people wasting the coastguards time they will fail to make the routine calls that they should. ie leaving passage plan, reporting minor navigation warnings, like floating timber etc etc.

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Old 31 March 2008, 17:00   #18
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I assume you have written to the RYA? I will be interested to here their response - I assume they will discuss this with the MCA unless it was just an omission on their part.
I know that there was a misquote in the RYA Magazine where they suggested using the Distress button to initiate a routing alert to the CG (perhaps this is the one Peter is talking about - not sure, there may have been two separate things!) which went out under the 'banner' of the RYA Cruising department a while back.

When I rang a friend of mine who works in the Cruising Department I was assured it was an error made by someone who didn't fully understand what they were writing - and that it hadn't been properly checked. In order to counteract this, many many RYA Publications in the following months contained a paragraph highlighting the misquote, and summarising the correct procedure.

So - in short, if this is the issue Peter mentions, the RYA were very quick off the mark in limiting the damage, and imparting the correct information. If it wasn't the same thing - I would imagine they will respond in the same way as soon as they realise the error.
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Old 31 March 2008, 17:38   #19
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I know that there was a misquote in the RYA Magazine where they suggested using the Distress button to initiate a routing alert to the CG (perhaps this is the one Peter is talking about - not sure, there may have been two separate things!) which went out under the 'banner' of the RYA Cruising department a while back.

When I rang a friend of mine who works in the Cruising Department I was assured it was an error made by someone who didn't fully understand what they were writing - and that it hadn't been properly checked. In order to counteract this, many many RYA Publications in the following months contained a paragraph highlighting the misquote, and summarising the correct procedure.

So - in short, if this is the issue Peter mentions, the RYA were very quick off the mark in limiting the damage, and imparting the correct information. If it wasn't the same thing - I would imagine they will respond in the same way as soon as they realise the error.
Yep Jimbo- the RYA did get out a correction as soon as they could in the "press the distress button to test it" saga.

In fairness to the RYA, what they say in this Wavelength is not incorrect like the distress button example.

They give the correct sequence of calls, and stress that it is up to the calling vessel to call the Coastguard back. However this article could have been more helpful by telling Instructors to teach "make this call back to the Coastguard with your vessel name and your MMSI number".

The reason I flagged it up is that Wavelength is an Instructors Magazine - and by and large instructors pass on procedures to other boat users. So getting this information correctly to instructors will hopefully mean that it filters through to many thousands of boat users.

Just for the record, I think the RYA do a first class job in lots of ways - and even wrote to them to this effect earlier this year after they helped me out with a few things that needed sorting.

However, I would have preferred to see slightly different wording in this article.
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Old 31 March 2008, 17:56   #20
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However this article could have been more helpful by telling Instructors to teach "make this call back to the Coastguard with your vessel name and your MMSI number"....filters through to many thousands of boat users.....However, I would have preferred to see slightly different wording in this article.
Jimbo/Peterb - sorry if I didn't make myself clear on my suggestion that Perer write to the RYA about his desire/concern. I was referring to the point that Peterb was making about quoting the MMSI in the voice call. It would appear not to be normal practice (I don't think I have ever heard it in reality!). However if it is something that the CG do want, then Peter highlighting this to the RYA is likely to result in a discussion between the RYA and the CG with I am sure a "better practice" article in the future, assuming of course that the official CG position is that this is preferred (and not wasting a minute on every call listening to skippers trying to find/remember/mumble a very long number).
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