UK: RAF Search & Rescue Role Ends After 74 Years – Published 04 Oct 2015 1925z (GMT/UTC)

RAF Search & Rescue Role Ends After 74 Years

PROUD RECORD: 34,025 Call-outs completed and 26,853 lives saved

The RAF's final operational search and rescue sortie comes to an end at RMB Chivenor at 12.07 on 4 October 2015. (Image: RAF)

The RAF’s final operational search and rescue sortie comes to an end at RMB Chivenor at 12.07 on 4 October 2015. (Image: RAF)

More than 74 years of continuous life-saving operations by the Royal Air Force in the UK came to an end at 1.00pm today, when the Chivenor duty search and rescue crew was formally relieved from its standby commitment by the United Kingdom Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre. The finale for RAF Search and Rescue in the UK was ‘business as usual’ with a final search and rescue operation taking place in the early hours of this morning.

The crew of the RAF's final operational UK search and rescue sortie: (left to right) Wing Commander 'Sparky' Dunlop (captain and Officer Commanding 22 Squadron), Sergeant Dan Allanson, Sergeant Russ Jenkins and Flight Lieutenant 'PJ' Howard. (Image: RAF)

The crew of the RAF’s final operational UK search and rescue sortie: (left to right) Wing Commander ‘Sparky’ Dunlop (captain and Officer Commanding 22 Squadron), Sergeant Dan Allanson, Sergeant Russ Jenkins and Flight Lieutenant ‘PJ’ Howard. (Image: RAF)

Chivenor is the last of the RAF’s 6 search and rescue bases to hand over responsibility for helicopter search and rescue provision to Bristow Helicopters Ltd.

Official search and rescue statistics show that since 1983 the RAF’s 6 units completed 34,025 callouts and rescued 26,853 persons in distress.

The final RAF crew to hold operational search and rescue standby commitment in the UK: (left to right) Sergeant Doug Bowden, Flight Lieutenant Ayla Holdom, Flight Lieutenant Christian 'Taff' Wilkins and Flight Sergeant Chris Scurr.(Image: RAF)

The final RAF crew to hold operational search and rescue standby commitment in the UK: (left to right) Sergeant Doug Bowden, Flight Lieutenant Ayla Holdom, Flight Lieutenant Christian ‘Taff’ Wilkins and Flight Sergeant Chris Scurr.(Image: RAF)

Other Reports

BBC

Chivenor hands over air rescue services to private firm

AgustaWestland AW189 in Coastguard livery operated by Bristow

AgustaWestland AW189 in Coastguard livery operated by Bristow

An RAF air rescue team based at Chivenor in north Devon has handed over its role to a private firm.

Bristow took over from the military at RMB Chivenor at 13:00 BST and will fly out of St Athan in south Wales.

The handover was delayed by four days because Bristow said it needed extra time.

Aberdeen-based Bristow won a 10-year contract to take over the service, which is being privatised around the UK.

The £1.6bn search and rescue deal with Bristow ends 70 years of search and rescue from the RAF and Royal Navy.

END

Well done RAF! – Goaty 🙂

Related:

UK Search & Rescue helicopters to be cut by nearly 50% – 300313 1650z

UK Government plan to close 50% of UK Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres – Updated 07 Feb 2013 0001Z: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/uk-government-plan-to-close-50-of-uk-coastguard-maritime-rescue-co-ordination-centres-published-23-aug-2012-2310z/

Privatising Search and Rescue: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/5765/

Could this be the coalition government’s biggest cock-up yet?: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/3435/

Support flaring for Clyde Coastguard, Scotland – Published 03 Sept 2012 1440Z: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/support-flaring-for-clyde-coastguard-scotland-published-03-sept-2012-1440z/

UK Search & Rescue helicopters to be cut by nearly 50% – 300313 1650z

Search and Rescue sell-off

The government is set to announce that Britains Search and Rescue service is to be sold off to an American firm.

(Scroll down for latest updates)

Duke of Cambridges base could be shut down

The Duke of Cambridge shows his father one of the RAF's distinctive yellow Sea King helicopters at RAF Valley on Anglesey
The Duke of Cambridge shows his father one of the RAFs distinctive yellow Sea King helicopters at RAF Valley on Anglesey Credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

Among the 12 bases from where search and rescue operations are launched is RAF Valley on Anglesey, where the Duke of Cambridge is based.

Under the contracts due to be unveiled tomorrow, the total number of bases is expected to be cut from 12 to10 although it is not clear which bases will be closed.

Assurances have already been given that the Duke will be moved to another part of the military rather than being employed by the firm that is awarded the search and rescue contracts.

For more: Privatisation of the Coastguard Service HasArrived

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Press release

Government contract to deliver faster, state of the art search and rescue fleet

Department for Transport has signed a contract with Bristow Helicopters Ltd to provide search and rescue helicopter services in the UK.

A new 1.6 billion contract for search and rescue helicopter services will see the UK benefit from improved flying times and better coverage of high-risk areas.

The Department for Transport has today signed a contract with Bristow Helicopters Ltd to provide search and rescue helicopter services in the UK. Helicopters will be able to reach a larger area of the UK search and rescue region within one hour of take off than is currently possible, and based on historic incident data it is estimated that there will be an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20% (from 23 to 19 minutes). Presently, approximately 70% of high and very high risk areas within the UK search and rescue region are reachable by helicopter within 30 minutes. Under the new contract, approximately 85% of the same area would be reached within this timeframe.

Todays announcement represents a major investment by the government in providing a search and rescue helicopter service using the most up to date helicopters and meeting the highest professional standards.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

Our search and rescue helicopter service plays a crucial role, saving lives and providing assistance to people in distress on both land and on sea.

With 24 years of experience providing search and rescue helicopter services in the UK, the public can have great confidence in Bristow and their ability to deliver a first class service with state-of-the-art helicopters.

Under the new contract, 22 state of the art helicopters will operate from 10 locations around the UK.

  • Ten Sikorsky S92s will be based, 2 per site, at Stornoway and Sumburgh, and at new bases at Newquay, Caernarfon and Humberside airports
  • Ten AgustaWestland AW189s will operate, 2 per site, from Lee on Solent and a new hangar at Prestwick airport, and new bases which will be established at St Athan, Inverness and Manston airports

All bases will be operational 24 hours a day.

Press enquiries: 020 7944 3118
Out of hours: 020 7944 4292
Public enquiries: 0300 330 3000

=====================================================================

News Reports

https://i2.wp.com/www.streamuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/DailyTelegraph1.jpg

3:21PM GMT 29 Mar 2013

Britains search and rescue helicopters to be cut by nearly 50pc in new deal

“Britain’s fleet of search and rescue helicopters will be cut by nearly 50 per cent as a result of the privatisation deal announced by the Government this week.

The Ministry of Defence will retire its 40-strong fleet of Sea King helicopters from 2016, with the search and rescue aircraft being replaced with newer models provided by Texas-based firm Bristow in a 1.6 billion contract with the Department for Transport announced on Tuesday.

However, The Telegraph understands that only 22 new helicopters have been commissioned under the new contract a shortfall of 45 per cent.

Ten of the new helicopters are believed to be AgustaWestland AW189s models and another 10 are thought to be Sikorsky S-92s, both four-bladed twin-engined crafts.

The new craft are expected to be 20 per cent faster than the existing Sea Kings and will be introduced from 2015 in a 10-year deal ending 70 years of search and rescue being run by the RAF and Royal Navy.

Richard Drax, Conservative MP for South Dorset, who has campaigned to prevent a search and rescue base in Portland from closing, condemned the cuts saying it would have a severe impact on safety.

However fast it is, one helicopter can only be in one place at one time,” he said.

I dont care how fast they are, if they are tasked elsewhere, and you have less helicopters, what helicopter is going to come and do the job? So by cutting the number of helicopters, thats a risk.

The less helicopters and bases you have, the more likely a rescue helicopter will be on another task and will not be able to get where its needed, were there more helicopters and more bases.

He added: The integrity of search and rescue, by removing Portland, will be harmed, and my fear is and I dont want to be alarmist that lives will be lost.

Helicopters are notorious for breaking down, because there are so many working parts.

The Ministry of Defence said front line services would not be impacted by the cut as only 16 of the existing Sea King fleet are deployed for search and rescue missions, with the rest undergoing maintenance or used for training.

Four of the 16 Sea Kings always in deployment are operated by the Royal Navy, while the RAF operates 12, with two helicopters on each base.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) operates another seven helicopters, bringing the number of front line search and rescue aircraft to 23. Those seven, however, are in addition to the 40 aircraft run by the Ministry of Defence.

It was unclear whether those craft will be retired.

A MoD spokesperson said: It is wrong to suggest the MoD operates 40 Search and Rescue helicopters at any one time. There are 16 operational Royal Navy and RAF Sea Kings – 2 at each of the 8 bases – which deliver the UKs search and rescue service. The rest of the fleet are either in deep maintenance, used as part of training programmes or based overseas. These aircraft are not available for operations.

From 2015, search and rescue services will be provided by 22 Bristow helicopters, under a contract awarded by the Department for Transport.

A spokesperson for Bristow Helicopters admitted there would be no additional aircraft to replace any that are taken out of service but said the helicopters will all be kept fully-maintained and ready to fly, with spare parts always available if an aircraft needs to be serviced.

The company added that it expects 20 of the new helicopters to be used for frontline rescue operations, with two used for training or maintenance at any one time.

The Department for Transport insisted the new service would be better than the current one.

It said: “There will be an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20 per cent (from 23 to 19 minutes).

Presently, approximately 70 per cent of high and very high-risk areas within the UK search and rescue region are reachable by helicopter within 30 minutes. Under the new contract, approximately 85 per cent of the same area would be reached within this time frame.” ” – Melanie Hall and Amy Willis telegraph.co.uk

Related:

UK Government plan to close 50% of UK Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres Updated 07 Feb 2013 0001Z: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/uk-government-plan-to-close-50-of-uk-coastguard-maritime-rescue-co-ordination-centres-published-23-aug-2012-2310z/ Privatising Search and Rescue: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/5765/ Could this be the coalition governments biggest cock-up yet?: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/3435/ Support flaring for Clyde Coastguard, Scotland Published 03 Sept 2012 1440Z: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/support-flaring-for-clyde-coastguard-scotland-published-03-sept-2012-1440z/

UK Helicopter Search And Rescue Ops ‘Sold’ – 250313 2320z

(Scroll down for latest)

Sunday Times suggests SAR contract win for Bristow

Submitted by Waypoint on Tue, 03/19/2013 – 11:55
Rescue 169 Brecon Beacons

“In an article published on 17 March, the Sunday Times newspaper announced that Bristow Helicopters is set to win a 3bn contract to take over Britains search and rescue service. On 18 March, the Financial Times repeated the claim that Bristow had won out, but valued the contract at 3.1 billion. First announced in November 2011, the process is aimed at replacing the UKs current mix of military and contract civilian search and rescue (SAR) helicopter cover with either one or two civilian providers. Bidders were invited to bid for Lot 1, covering northern bases, Lot 2, covering southern bases, or Lot 3, covering all bases. The field has narrowed progressively throughout the bidding process, leaving just Bristow Helicopters and Bond Offshore Helicopters in the running; most recently, CHC left the process in January. Sunday Times journalist Karl West, who broke the news, would not reveal the source of the information, and also declined to comment on whether the win referred to Lot 1, 2 or 3. However, the Department for Transport has previously valued Lot 3 at between 2 and 3 billion, which matches the figure quoted by West. A spokesperson for Bristow Helicopters was not able to confirm or deny the suggestion. Neither was Bond able to comment. The Department for Transports timescale to announce the winner has been officially stated as spring 2013. Asked whether a winner had been chosen, a spokesperson said: All information surrounding this procurement is commercially confidential. An announcement will be made in due course. – Waypoint Tags:

Update 25 Apr 2013:

A selection of press reports….

UK Helicopter Search And Rescue Ops ‘Sold’

The sale to a US company brings to an end 70 years of Sea King search operations by the RAF and the Royal Navy.

Emergency service volunteers are winched on to an RAF search and rescue Sea King helicopter from Lake Bala during an exercise in north Wales

RAF Sea King helicopters have been running rescue operations for 70 years

By Alistair Bunkall, Defence Correspondent

The Government is selling off UK helicopter search and rescue operations to a US-based company, according to Sky sources.

The Bristow Group, which is headquartered in Texas, has won the contract to run the service from 2015 to 2026.

The exact value of the deal has not been confirmed, but it is expected to be in the region of 3bn.

An official announcement by the Government will be made at 7am on Tuesday before the stock market opens.

It marks the end of 70 years of search and rescue operations by the RAF and Navy.

The distinct yellow RAF Sea King helicopters and grey and red Navy versions were already due to retire from service in 2016.

Upkeep costs and the cost of extending their life has been deemed too expensive.

The move is also in keeping with a wider re-shaping of the military in the face of budget cuts and the 2014 withdrawal from Afganistan.

But the Sea King has been the work-horse of the skies, both in a combat and peacetime capacity, and whatever the merits of this decision, it will be missed by many.

Few other aircraft have so many memorable moments associated with them but the Sea King will long be remembered for its part in the Falklands conflict and the Fastnet race in 1979 when it helped rescue sailors from ferocious seas.

Bristow will operate the service using Sikorsky S-92 and Augusta Westland 189 helicopters.

It is understood that the technology they will introduce is so advanced that the US State Department had to give its approval for it to be used in the UK.

Bristow already provides transport services in the UK to ferry oil-rig workers to and from North Sea platforms.

The company has had a presence in Europe for more than 50 years and also operates in Australia, West Africa, Russia and Malaysia in addition to North America.

Govt to announce sell-off of Search and Rescue service

“The government is set to announce that Britain’s Search and Rescue service is to be sold off to an American firm.

Up until now, the operation has been run by the RAF, Navy and Coastguard Agency.

The firm will actually be awarded two contracts, because the service has been separated into two parts operating different types of helicopter.

An announcement is expected just before the stock market opens in the morning.” – by – Deputy Political Editor itv.com

Britain’s Helicopter Search And Rescue To Be Sold To US Company, Bristow Group

PA | Posted: 25/03/2013 22:14 GMT|Updated: 25/03/2013 22:16 GMT PA

“A US-based company is to take over Britain’s helicopter search and rescue operations, it has been reported.

The government has awarded the contract to run the service to the Bristow Group, which has its headquarters in Texas, Sky News reported.

raf search and rescue

Bristow is expected to replace the current RAF and Navy helicoptersThe broadcaster said an announcement – ending 70 years of search and rescue operations by the RAF and Royal Navy – would be made before the stock market opens on Tuesday.

The contract – which runs from 2015 to 2026 – is reported to be worth in the region of Ł3 billion.

Bristow is said to be planning replace the ageing RAF and Navy Sea King helicopters with faster, more efficient Sikorsky S-92s and AgustaWestland 189s.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are due to make an announcement soon.”” – Huffpost

 

Related:

UK Government plan to close 50% of UK Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres Updated 07 Feb 2013 0001Z: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/uk-government-plan-to-close-50-of-uk-coastguard-maritime-rescue-co-ordination-centres-published-23-aug-2012-2310z/ Privatising Search and Rescue: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/5765/ Could this be the coalition governments biggest cock-up yet?: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/3435/ Support flaring for Clyde Coastguard, Scotland Published 03 Sept 2012 1440Z: https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/support-flaring-for-clyde-coastguard-scotland-published-03-sept-2012-1440z/

The Big Picture

American firm to operate Portland Coastguard helicopter

I have warned about this before.

Her Majesty’s Coastguard Service has warned of this many, many times.

Now it is here.

Apparently American company Bristow is due to be announced as the winning bidder in the fight to take over the Coastguard Helicopter at Portland with a bid worth £3 Billion.

The rescue service is currently run jointly by the RAF, the Royal Navy and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The Portland Coastguard helicopter faces the axe in 2017 under government cost-cutting plans to relocate it to Lee-on-Solent.

More than 18,000 people have signed an e-petition to Save Portland Helicopter.

This is the thin end of a very thick wedge. Be under no illusions. Private companies exist to serve their shareholders. Their primary objective is to make a profit.

Public sector services do not work like that and it’s about time the…

View original post 258 more words

Privatising Search and Rescue

The Airdrie Rambler

SAR

The UK Government is currently looking to replace the existing Search and Rescue (SAR) service, run by a combination of RAF, Royal Navy and Coastguard helicopters, with a privatised version. At the moment the UK Government is seeking companies to tender for the contract. As taxpayers we already pay for the existing SAR service, and if privatised we will pay for the new one as well, albeit the work will be carried out by a private contractor. To me it is a dangerous and unnecessary move. Unfortunately, as this was proposed by Labour and is now being pursued by the Tories, I’d say it was likely that this will be implemented, unless there is a real uproar caused amongst voters themselves, as happened with the proposals to sell off woodlands in England and Wales.

One thing that is stopping that is, in my view, that many people are mixing up…

View original post 630 more words

New search and rescue helicopter base to be considered

Wales Air Forum

RAF Sea King mountain rescue helicopterBy Hywel Trewyn

PLANS for a new helicopter search and rescue base are to be considered – despite the Government throwing out a bid by the applicants to run a new UK-wide service.

The Government wants to privatise the search and rescue (SAR) helicopter service such as the one presently at RAF Valley, Anglesey, and turn it into a civilian-only operation by 2016 when the existing Sea King helicopters will retire.

This is despite protestations by the Duke of Cambridge, a search and rescue pilot, who works at Valley.

Last year the Government invited bidders to run the service. It said 10 unnamed bases would be used, leaving the possibility RAF Valley would not be selected.

In November, British Columbia-based CHC submitted a bid to build a hangar and accommodation for 30 (SAR) crew at Caernarfon airport, Dinas Dinlle, Gwynedd.

The application will be discussed at a Gwynedd Council planning…

View original post 146 more words

RAF SAR crew criticised for beach landing ‘so the pilot can buy ice cream’

(Photo: � Crown Copyright/MOD 2012)
RAF Sea King Rescue Helicopter

“The UK�s media have gleefully reported on the landing by a search and rescue helicopter crew on a beach, �so the pilot can buy ice cream�, to quote the Telegraph newspaper.

After the Royal Air Force (RAF) Sea King landed on the sand at Winterton-on-Sea, onlookers watched (and photographed) a crew member exit the aircraft and enter a beachside caf�, before emerging with ice creams.” waypointmagazine.com

Goaty says:� SAR ops often involve beach landings, it is important for crews to regularly practise this skill. Considering the great service these crews give the public, to begrudge them from taking the opportunity for a little cool refreshment on a hot day, is quite petty. If a crew made a flight, or diverted from an emergency call, especially to buy ice-cream (wouldn’t happen), that, would be worth criticism. Leave these guys alone, they deserve respect, not this….

Last year the same Daily Telegraph (29 Nov 2011) was saying

“Britain�s highly respected Royal Navy and RAF search and rescue teams are to be privatised despite objections from the Duke of Cambridge.”

and,

“By 2016 the country�s coastline and mountains will be patrolled by civilians replacing 90 RAF and Royal Navy pilots, the Government announced. The move will mean the end to 60 years of military search and rescue by servicemen who have saved thousands of lives both at sea and off mountain tops.”

Apart from the RAF and the RN, our current SAR providers include the Coastguard, who have their own rescue helicopters. They are already facing planned cuts -� 50% of Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCC�s) are to be axed.

(Photo: MCA)
Coastguard Rescue Helicopter

I doubt whether SAR ops run by private companies (presumably for profit) would ever be able to match the very high standards the public have enjoyed for the last three decades.

Both the future privatisation of SAR & the Coastguard cuts could result in a loss of vital expertise and local knowledge, perhaps then the ‘hue and cry’ will be not be so much about ice creams as lives lost.

Full story here:
http://www.waypointmagazine.com/story371