Coastguards are celebrating the 200th birthday of the service which is dedicated to saving lives at sea.

To mark the milestone, 200 throwlines – part of the standard lifesaving kit – will be cast by coastguards around the country as a symbol of the service’s dedication.

Tom Wright, area commander for South West England, said: “We have changed inconceivably from when we were first brought into place and in my time we have changed massively.

“We have got a lot safer and our rescue capability (has improved) and we are into technical rescue now.

“We rely a lot more on technology as far as our communications are concerned, and the new technologies, as far as drones to assist in search and rescue and other unmanned vehicles (go), will be key moving forward.”

The Leader: HM Coastguard Coastal Operations Area Commander Tom Wright casts a throwline on Southbourne beach in Dorset (PA)HM Coastguard Coastal Operations Area Commander Tom Wright casts a throwline on Southbourne beach in Dorset (PA)

Mr Wright added that the service could not do its work without the able support of volunteers who give up their time "24/7 365 days a year".

Nowadays the Coastguard involves 3,500 volunteers in 310 teams across the UK, which are supported by 10 search and rescue helicopters.

Maritime minister Robert Courts also praised the service, calling it the "backbone of our maritime sector".

When was the Coastguard originally founded?

The service was set up on January 15, 1822 to combat smuggling operations, but its first form was the Preventive Water Guard which was founded in 1809 under the eye of the Board of Customs.

It was placed under the Treasury in 1816, before being handed back to the Board of Customs on January 15, 1822 under the declaration that it should be called the 'Coast Guard'.

The Coastguard was formed with the merger of three services set up to prevent smuggling - the Revenue Cruisers, the Riding Officers and the Preventive Water Guard.

How to get a job at the Coastguard?

According to the National Careers service website there are a number of ways to apply for a position on the Coastguard.

It says: "You may be able to work your way into this role by starting as a watch assistant and applying for promotion when you've got more experience.

"You'll need literacy, numeracy and IT skills, as well as seagoing experience."

Additionally, you can volunteer and then apply for a paid position when it opens or you can apply directly for jobs if you have some of the relevant skills and knowledge needed for this role.