NEWS: No.771 NAS stands down after 40 years of saving lives

Sea King 771 NAS

No.771 Naval Air Squadron Sea King (royalnavy.mod.uk)

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.

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NEWS: Award for military SAR crews as mission comes to an end after 60 years

The iconic yellow Sea King is bowing out (targeta.co.uk)

The iconic yellow Sea King is bowing out (targeta.co.uk)

As the search and rescue role is transferred from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to civilian operators the military crews who will see the end of their vital duties have been given the Award of Honour from the Honourable Company of Air Pilots citing both courage and the highest standards of airmanship. The annual awards are regarded as being among the world’s most premier aviation accolades and are particularly noteworthy because the recipients are selected by fellow flyers.

Bristow Helicopters will become the leading provider of search and rescue (SAR) services in the UK, on behalf of HM Coastguard having been awarded the UK SAR contract in April 2015. As part of the contract Bristow have offered employment to the military crews many of whom have now signed their contracts with the company ready for when their respective units stand down and their military careers end. By the summer of 2017 Bristow will operate 10 coastguard helicopter bases around the UK which will bring to an end 60 years of military search and rescue in the UK.

NEWS: The end of military SAR

The iconic yellow Sea King is bowing out (targeta.co.uk)

The iconic yellow Sea King is bowing out (targeta.co.uk)

Sixty years of military search and rescue has officially come to an end with private operator Bristow Helicopters taking over search and rescue in North Wales. Bristow have a contract to provide the service for up to ten years equipped with new Sikorsky S-92 aircraft to replace the distinctive and iconic yellow Sea Kings of No.22 Squadron RAF.

The deal has also seen the main base of operations move from RAF Valley on Anglesey to a new base at Caernarfon. A second base will be established at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan from October to provide search and rescue for the south coast of Wales.

Bristow’s S-92 helicopters have a crew of four and are capable of flying at 145mph. According to Bristow two thirds of staff at the new Caernarfon base consist of current serving military personnel that will soon transfer to the company having been guaranteed employment.