The HM Coastguard is part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the UK. Within the UK Government, the Department for Transport has overall responsibility for the establishment, operation and maintenance of an adequate and effective civil maritime and civil aeronautical search and rescue service. For maritime SAR, the Coastguard Act 1925 has placed a statutory duty upon HM Coastguard to carry out those duties performed by the Coastguard prior to the 1925 Act and any other duties as determined by the Secretary of State for Transport and the most important of those "determinations" was laid down before Parliament in 1992 and stated that:
HM Coastguard is responsible for the initiation and coordination of civil maritime search and rescue within the UK search and rescue region. This includes the mobilisation, organisation and tasking of adequate resources to respond to persons either in distress at sea, or to persons at risk of injury or death on the cliffs or shoreline of the UK.
HM Coastguard provides, from its own resources, a Coast Rescue capability for the UK coast and shoreline using volunteers from local communities who become members of HM Coastguard’s Coast Rescue Service. These teams provide rope-rescue (from cliffs and steep coastal terrain), water rescue (surf-line and coastal flooding capability), search for missing or lost persons on the coast, and rescue of persons trapped in or mud or sand.
The Chicago Convention obliged signatory states to provide a SAR service for aviation and in 1947 this task was assigned to the UK Royal Air Force and the UK has provided an aeronautical rescue coordination capability ever since.
From 2016 the UK Coastguard has taken responsibility for the provision of the UK Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) which coordinates the assignment and tasking of SAR helicopters and aircraft to respond to emergencies on land and at sea within the UK Search and Rescue Region (UKSRR).
Contact person: Tristam James Newey