The Coastguard Service co-ordinates marine search and rescue operations around the 4,500 mile UK coastline and for 1,000 miles into the Atlantic.
Modern technology has meant that instead of spending long hours keeping watch in remote lookouts, regular Coastguard Officers now direct operations from specially equipped search and rescue centres situated at carefully-chosen sites around the coast.
This is certainly a far cry from the original Coastguard service set up in 1822 to crack down on smuggling. In those days fishing boats would come into harbour with brandy casks slung under their keels. Ships were found with false bows or false bottoms. Tobacco was even woven into hawsers.
Saving life was only a small part of the Coastguard's job compared with saving money for the Revenue.
At the same time the early Coastguards were expected to assist ships in distress and, in case of shipwreck, to do their best to save lives. It was not uncommon for passengers and crews to drown scarcely a stone's throw from the shore. In severe storms there was often little anyone on land could do to reach a stranded ship.
A dramatic break-through came when George Manby, a lifelong friend of Horatio Nelson,perfected a mortar which would fire a shot with 500 yards of line from the shore on to a wrecked ship.
Over the next fifty years other types of rockets were developed, the most famous being the Boxer rocket - a highly reliable double charge rocket which became standard lifesaving equipment in 1865 and remained so until after World War 2.
This building which now houses the Maggie Law Maritime Museum, was purpose built for the storage of life saving apparatus, by the Coastguard and Auxiliary Coastguards. The responsibility of the local Montrose and Aberdeen Coastguard services may be:
• Rescuing of persons close inshore and in tidal waters,
• Assisting with persons threatening to jump from bridges,
• Searching for missing persons, ordinance, chemicals, etc reported by members of the public (All terrain types),
• Dealing with any of the above once found (i.e. rendering first aid, cordon off area, etc.),
• Guiding other rescue resources onto a casualty's position (i.e. burning vessel offshore,)
• Manning of helicopter landing site at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for medical emergencies,
• Setting up and manning of helicopter emergency landing sites,
• Advising the public on dangers they may come across on or near the coast,
• Providing communications links for other services,
• Assisting other services to complete their task (Ambulance/Police).
This panel is dedicated to the men of the local community, who often put themselves at risk to ensure the safety and survival of others.