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Prestwick Search and Rescue Helicopter Service Celebrates One-year Milestone

January 06, 2017

Bristow Helicopters Limited has reached the first anniversary of delivering Search and Rescue (SAR) operations on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, from the base at Prestwick Airport.

The HM Coastguard service became operational at Prestwick on 1 January 2016, and since then the crews have responded to over 350 taskings from the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC).

Chief Pilot, Captain Craig Sweeney said: “I’d like to thank the local community on behalf of all the crews here at the Prestwick SAR base for making us feel so welcome over the past 12 months. It’s a particular honour for me given that Ayr is my home town. We are very proud to have been tasked with maintaining the excellent standards set by the previous military service, which many of us were part of, and we are very much looking forward to the future as part of HM Coastguard’s lifesaving service.

“Our missions have seen us flying as far north as Aberdeen and as far south as Blackpool. In addition we have responded to numerous calls to the Western Isles, Northern Ireland and the East coast. Calls have varied from searches to time critical rescues, supporting the RNLI, Police Scotland, NHS Scotland and our fellow HM Coastguard Teams. In addition, we have operated in the hostile mountainous environments of the Scottish Highlands and Lake District alongside the exceptional volunteers of the Mountain Rescue Teams; individuals who never fail to surprise me of their capabilities and willingness to go the extra mile for those in need of help.”

Bristow crews are delivering the UK SAR helicopter service on behalf of HM Coastguard with state-of-the-art helicopters, equipped with the latest search and rescue technology including night vision, mission management and increased onboard medical capabilities.

Russell Torbet, director of UK SAR, said: “After many years of preparation by the Bristow SAR teams we have now been responsible for the HM Coastguard helicopter search and rescue service in some parts of the country for about 20 months, since April 2015. We have now reached 12 months of successful operations in Prestwick and I’d like to congratulate the crews for their dedication and commitment to delivering this essential public service. I’m sure that they have become a valued part of the community.”

In 2013 Bristow won the UK Government national contract to deliver SAR operations on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). Seven of 10 strategically located bases have taken over the helicopter SAR responsibility from the military in a phased approach throughout 2015 and 2016. The remaining three bases (two of which are already operated by Bristow) are set to become part of the new contract by July 2017.

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