Part time soldiers’ exercise caused coastal emergency false alarm

Lifeboat was launched when TA let of flares

Part time soldiers failed to inform the coastguard that they were exercising in Moray at the weekend – and sparked the launch of the Buckie lifeboat.

A full-scale emergency was launched when a training exercise involving Territorial Army troops included the release of flares at the mouth of the Spey.

Aberdeen Coastguard received a series of calls from concerned members of the public at 9am on Sunday after they spotted what they took to be emergency flares around a mile west of Kingston.

With no advance warning having been given by the Army the Coastguard assumed that the flares were being launched from a vessel in trouble on the Moray Firth – and ordered the Buckie Lifeboat to sea.

A spokesman for the coastguard service said: “It was just to the west of the river at around 9am in the morning.

“We had a Buckie coastguard team and lifeboat activated – but as it turned out the flares were being fired from land.

“It was handheld flares but the problem is that it could have been a vessel in distress – if the TA had told somebody it would not have been a problem.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman confirmed that they had been informed of the exercise, adding: “We were well aware – we certainly had been advised it was a training exercise, we do not know why the coastguard were not informed.”

Last night a Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We take the requirement to liaise with local authorities and emergency services when planning training exercises very seriously.

“In this case there seems to have been a regrettable breakdown in communication and we will investigate what happened to make sure it does not happen again in the future.”

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