UK's Search and Rescue network to be maintained
The UK's network of Search and Rescue stations is to be restored from 26 to 28, Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell has confirmed.
The MOD had decided in principle to reduce Search and Rescue helicopter crews from 28 to 24 in 2008. But it subsequently became clear that the implementation of this would present an unmanageable risk and, as soon as this was identified, Ministers decided to revert to 28 crews.
The number of Search and Rescue crews operating currently stands at 26 but this will be increased back to 28. We aim for this to be completed by early summer 2010.
Until then, some planned night-time base closures will be necessary in order to ensure current levels of day-time coverage are maintained, safeguard crew safety, and preserve night-time response times.
It has already been necessary in the past to close bases on an ad hoc basis in order to address occasional shortfalls in manning arising from, for example, injury, sickness and ongoing support to operations.
These planned closures will be managed in the same way, under the control of the Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre, to ensure that arrangements are in place for full cover of the UK at night-time.
There will be no impact on day-time Search and Rescue cover, and it is during this period that the overwhelming majority of call-outs take place.
Minister for the Armed Forces, Bill Rammell, said:
"I am pleased to be able to confirm that we are restoring the number of Search and Rescue bases to 28. We aim for this to be completed by early summer 2010. In the meantime, we need to implement some temporary measures, but I have every confidence that these can be managed in a way which will not affect the service we provide.
"It is standard practice that, when a Search and Rescue station is not operating - which can happen for various reasons - the adjacent stations are able to respond. This process does, and will continue to, ensure that Search and Rescue cover is maintained throughout the UK 24-hours-a-day.
"I appreciate these changes have caused some concern but our Search and Rescue helicopter crews do a fantastic job and that will not change because of these temporary closures.
"Our crews provide a first-class service better than or comparable with anyone in the world, and that will continue."
The following bases will be affected by temporary night-time closures, providing 12-hour coverage for the UK:
- Wattisham from 4 October until 15 November 2009;
- RAF Lossiemouth from 18 October until 29 November 2009;
- RAF Valley from 15 November until 31 December 2009;
- Leconfield from 29 November until 10 January 2010;
- RMB Chivenor from 31 December until 7 February 2010.
More from Defence Helicopter
Germany has committed to sending Ukraine six of its 21 retiring WS-61 Westland Sea King multirole, amphibious helicopters.
Boeing has clinched a major contract modification to further its backing of the US Special Operations Command’s MH-47G Chinook aircraft modernisation effort.
Two KAI helicopters, the KUH-1E utility helicopter and the Light Attack Helicopter (LAH), have taken centre stage at the Dubai Airshow 2023.
The Italian Navy now boasts a fleet of 56 NH90 helicopters comprising 46 SH-90As and 10 MH-90As.
The Argentinian Air Force (FAA) and the Argentinian Naval Aviation Command (COAN) are looking for options to upgrade their helicopter fleets.
Lockheed Martin promises a boost to the British job market and export opportunities, while strengthening ties with Poland and positioning the UK for a future in rotorcraft technology in the event of a New Medium Helicopter competition triumph.