National Coastwatch (NCI) was set up in 1994 to restore a visual watch along UK shores following the final closure of Coastguard coastal watch stations. A tragedy off Cornwall inspired local volunteers to apply to reopen the station at Bass Point on the Lizard and since that time, the charity has continued to grow. At first this was organic growth along the south coast, but latterly by using evidence based data supplied by MCA with whom it works closely.
NCI is dedicated to sea and coastal safety, supporting search and rescue agencies in the preservation of life. 2600 volunteer Watchkeepers in 57 stations provide the eyes and ears along the coast, using VHF radio, plotting radar, automatic ship recognition and powerful optics. They bring a wide range of transferable skills and experience and are highly trained to deal with emergencies. The high standards demanded of them are maintained by continuous and continual training and a rolling programme of station maintenance and equipment upgrade. Recruiting has always been and remains good with standardized training of recruits and a VHF radio qualification now a requirement for a trainee to achieve their watchkeeping certificate.
NCI is funded entirely by public subscription and is also grateful for the support of maritime organisations such as Trinity House and further station openings and refits are planned for the next twelve months.