Monday, 16 August 2010

Don't cut the cutters

Customs cutters, that is.

The UKBA has just five cutters to patrol the whole of the UK's coastline. Four of these are up to date Damen Stan vessels, 42m and capable of 26kts. The fifth, the Sentinel, is an older design and currently responsible for Scotland's 3,000 miles of coastline. Word is that the UKBA is planning to scrap the Sentinel without replacement and rely on just Seeker, Searcher, Vigilant and Valiant to patrol the entire UK.

Vigilant

The time is right for the creation of an HMRC Auxiliary. The cost of procuring and maintaining new small patrol craft is minimal - it's the crew that costs. I'm sure if the government supplied 20 or 30 new small cutters, under 24m to allow most experienced yachtsmen to command them, together with training opportunities for our young men and women who want to learn our island race's sea-skills, the benefits would grossly outweigh the costs.

It's not the Dutch yachts carrying cocaine that trouble me, but the Dutch yachts carrying Jihadists, radioactive materials and explosives and weapons from Eastern Europe.

With an Auxiliary force on the water, UKBA can spend its money on a couple of unmanned drones, not only to fill the RAF Nimrod gap until the new MRA4s are built from the skeletons of the old 1950s de Havilland Comets MR2s but to add to the level of border security and provide targets for Auxiliary HMRC service interception and boarding.

Would I give up three days a month to serve in a new Auxiliary HMRC? Of course.
(Um, that thing on the foredeck that looks like it should be a 40mm Bofors is actually a fire hose)

6 comments:

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Oh - you mean that's NOT a gun?

Gosh how disappointing; in my couple of contacts with these guys (it's usually Smiter in the Clyde, I find), I have always been hugely impressed by the fear that, if you don't do as they say, they might fire a broadside. How romantic would that be!

I hear some bad tales from the brotherhood, about UKBA boarding yachts silently, at night, unannounced, dressed up like ninjas, and behaving very aggressively. Rather like the police, if they want the support of the law-abiding public, they need to get rid of that attitude.

In fairness I will say, that all the personnel I have personally had dealings with, have been professionalism personified and completely helpful. The usual "bad apples", I suppose, but mud sticks.

Raedwald said...

'Smiter' I think is an RN training patrol boat for Glasgow & Strathclyde Unis, but I take your point about etiquette. I also think an Auxiliary organisation is less likely to exhibit the rudeness and arrogance of the black ninjas (we've got them down here as well, but in RIBS) as they're likely to get roundly chewed out next time they're in the clubhouse if they misbehave. Wonderful thing, peer pressure.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see HMRC have less power, not more. Let the Navy or the Coastguard man these vessels and employ RNR personnel 3 days per week. They could be manned by a naval version of the TA.

William Gruff said...

It's commendable that 'experienced yachtsmen' such as yourself are prepared to step up and take command of nice big motor boats provided by the tax-payer but the job is rightfully one for the Royal Navy, which has a long history of defending our shores successfully.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Being a professional marine type with experience of HMRC over many years and all around the coast - in general they are a disgrace to their uniforms.
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People wibble on about bad apples ... my experience has been that that's the rule rather than the exception.
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RIBs full of ninja suited bullying halfwit Walter Mittys I can really do without.
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Failed coppers with more power - great, just great.
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Navy please.

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