Two of Wales three Coastguard stations could close in plans unveiled by the government today.
Holyhead and Milford Haven coastguard stations are set to close leaving Wales with just one base in Mumbles near Swansea.
Under proposals outlined by Shipping Minister Mike Penning, there will be just three 24-hour operational centres across the UK – at Aberdeen, in the Southampton/Portsmouth area, and at Dover.
The Mumbles centre will become one of five sub-stations which will operate during daylight hours.
Mr Penning said: “Our seas are becoming busier, with larger ships and increasing numbers of offshore renewable energy platforms making key areas of our seas more congested.
“There are also increasing numbers of people using our beaches, coastlines and seas for leisure activities.
“The current organisation of the coastguard – which dates back some 40 years – is not well placed to respond to these challenges.
“The lack of national co-ordination between the centres can result in limited resilience and an uneven distribution of the workload, especially during busy periods.”
Launching a 14-week consultation period on the proposals, Mr Penning said the changes would “strengthen the Coastguard service by dealing with potential points of weakness in current structures and adding resilience throughout the system while also maintaining strong regional links and enhancing frontline rescue services through the volunteer Coastguard”.
But the plans have been criticised, with concerns being raised that closing coastguard stations will put lives at risk.
Albert Owen, Labour MP for Ynys Mon said the closure of the Holyhead station endangered lives and that it made “no sense” to have no coastguard station between Swansea and Liverpool.
A decision about the sell-off of rescue helicopters has been postponed.