Skip to main content
Manston Patrol

The tanker Linnea, captured by my camera, anchored-off the Margate road, having an unexpected visitor as the Coastguard aircraft takes a low-level pass across the bow.

You can watch a Web slide show of the patrol HERE.

The Manston patrol has four principal assignments. Working with the Coastguard on CNIS, the Channel Navigation Information Service, Fisheries and Customs patrols and of course SAR, Search & Rescue, with the Islander carrying a powerful camera, mounted on a gimbal below the aircraft and a fourteen-man dinghy which can be dropped next to any vessel in difficulties while it waits for the nearest SAR helicopter to arrive from Portland.

In many respects new technology available to CNIS, which maintains traffic separation, much like a maritime version of an aircraft Mode C transponder, has actually reduced the aircraft’s mission load because vessels are now required to be fitted with an automatic information system, a mandatory transponder which reports the vessel’s details when it crosses from North Foreland or Cap Gris Nez, into the designated shipping lanes of the crowded Dover straights. The Coastguard Patrol pilots are now only likely to be called if for some reason a vessel is not transmitting and is about to blunder into the English Channel. At this point their pagers start sounding and the pilots are expected to be on scene within twenty minutes, photographing the vessel and acting as the eyes of the Dover Coastguard.


Popular posts from this blog

A Matter of Drones - Simon Moores for The Guardian

I have a drone on my airfield” – a statement that welcomes passengers to the latest dimension in air-travel disruption. Words of despair from the chief operating officer of Gatwick airport in the busiest travel week of the year. Elsewhere, many thousands of stranded and inconvenienced passengers turned in frustration to social media in an expression of crowd-sourced outrage.

How could this happen? Why is it still happening over 12 hours after Gatwick’s runways were closed to aircraft, why is an intruder drone – or even two of them – suspended in the bright blue sky above the airport, apparently visible to security staff and police who remain quite unable to locate its source of radio control?

Meanwhile, the UK Civil Aviation Authority, overtaken by both the technology and events, is reduced to sending out desperate tweets warning that an airport incursion is a criminal offence and that drone users should follow their new code of conduct. Yet this is not an unforeseen event. It was i…
A Christmas Tale

It’s pitch blackness in places along the sea wall this evening and I'm momentarily startled by a small dog with orange flashing yuletide antlers along the way. I’m the only person crazy enough to be running and I know the route well enough to negotiate it in the dark, part of my Christmas exercise regime and a good way of relieving stress.

Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.

I was warned that the Playmobil ‘Pirate Ship’ had driven some fathers to drink or suicide and now I understand why. If your eyesight isn’t perfect or if you’ve had a few drinks with your Christmas lunch then it’s a challenge best left until Boxing day but not an option if you happen to have a nine year old daughter who wants it ready to take horses by tea time.

Perhaps I should stick to technology but then, the instruc…

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…