The squadron which flies the Westland Sea King in the Search and Rescue (SAR) role has now handed over the life-saving responsibility to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The MCA will use private firm Bristow Helicopters flying modern Sikorsky S-92s from Newquay Airport to replace the Sea Kings. As part of the transfer of duties a number of Royal Navy personnel will be leaving military service to work for Bristow.
Commanding Officer of 771 NAS, Lieutenant Commander Dick Calhaem, said;
A lot of the new Bristow team are ex-771 so they are very familiar with the Cornish coastline and should know the ropes well.
The standing down of No.771 NAS also brings the retirement of the Sea King from UK service a little bit closer. From March 2016 only the airborne early warning Sea King ASaC.7 will remain in the British inventory until replaced by a variant of the Merlin helicopter in 2018.