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Caernarfon Search and Rescue Helicopter Base Marks Milestone

September 03, 2015

The new civilian search and rescue (SAR) helicopter base at Caernarfon Airport has reached 100 taskings exactly two months after going live.

The base is operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd on behalf of HM Coastguard and was the third of the new civilian search and rescue helicopter bases to go live on 1 July.

Chief Crewman Kevin Weller said: “Historically C Flight at RAF Valley has been one of the busiest SAR flights in the UK so we knew we would be busy from the word go.”

The base’s first tasking, a mountain rescue, came just eight hours after going live and the crew was ready to respond. The hundredth tasking happened on 1st September when the helicopter was called in to help with a medical evacuation. In the event it wasn’t needed on this occasion but shows the wide and varied nature of the role.

Chief Crewman Weller continued: “The jobs we have been tasked to have been challenging at times, especially in the mountains in poor weather and at night. Some operations have involved us flying as far as Cardiff to the south and the Lake District to the north, but due to the speed and endurance of the S92, and the state-of-the-art equipment we have onboard, neither has proven too difficult.”

Between these taskings the crews have continued to train hard and work closely with other emergency services to make sure they are familiar with the new aircraft and onboard SAR kit.

Chief Crewman Weller added: “The transition from the military to the civilian SAR service has been remarkably smooth thanks to the support of other local rescue teams including mountain rescue and the RNLI and time they have taken to train with us and learn about the Sikorsky S92 aircraft. We are fortunate that our team also includes a lot of familiar faces who have worked in the area and with these partners for many years.

“Everyone at the base feels very privileged to be part of this team and we are looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

Bristow Helicopters, a UK limited company, was awarded the ten year UK SAR contract by the Department for Transport in March 2013. By 2017, it will deliver the service from ten bases strategically located close to areas of high SAR incident rates.

Combined with the new bases at Humberside and Inverness which went live on 1 April 2015, the new civilian SAR helicopter service responded to over 200 taskings between April and the end of July. Adding this to taskings Bristow crews have responded to from existing HM Coastguard bases in Sumburgh and Stornoway this brings the total number of SAR missions the company has completed between April and the end of July to 324.

For further information please contact the Bristow Helicopters Communication team on 01224 806 602 or via bristow@webershandwick.com

About HM Coastguard
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is a frontline delivery and emergency response organisation which is part of the Department for Transport. Its job is to ensure that the threat of pollution from ships is managed and tackled if it occurs and the public can be rescued if they get into difficulties.

Part of the MCA is HM Coastguard, which provides a UK-wide maritime emergency prevention and response capability which responds to calls for help by radio, satellite or the 999 service and coordinates maritime search and rescue (SAR) within the UK SAR region. The agency helps approximately 25,000 people each year with 21,000 incidents coordinated by its rescue centres.

About Bristow Helicopters Ltd
Bristow Helicopters Ltd is the leading provider of search and rescue (SAR) services in the UK, on behalf of Her Majesty's Coastguard, having been awarded the UK SAR contract and the Gap SAR contract for Northern Scotland. Bristow Helicopters has a long history of providing world class SAR services in the UK, beginning in 1971 and has flown more than 44,000 SAR operational hours in the UK and conducted over 15,000 SAR missions, during which more than 7,000 people have been rescued by our crews and helicopters. For more information on Bristow’s SAR operations, please visit www.bristowsar.com

Bristow Helicopters Ltd. has served the offshore oil transport industry in the UK for nearly 60 years. Bristow Helicopters Ltd. is an affiliated company of Bristow Group Inc.