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Stornoway Coastguard Search and Rescue Helicopter Base Joins UK SAR Network

July 10, 2017

Stornoway's Coastguard search and rescue (SAR) helicopter base has officially transferred into the UK SAR contract, becoming the 10th and final base to enter the nationwide Coastguard SAR helicopter network operated by Bristow Helicopters on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

For the past four years the Stornoway base has been part of the Gap SAR contract, awarded to Bristow in 2012. Stornoway and its island sister base at Sumburgh, Shetland – which joined UK SAR in April 2017 – provide cover over land and sea radiuses of some 250 miles.

Stornoway SAR was established 30 years ago, in May 1987, and continues to provide vital life-saving support to the fishing and other marine industries and the offshore energy sector, as well as to land-based incidents including missing persons and other medical emergencies.

As part of the transition to UK SAR, Stornoway is now host to two specially configured Sikorsky S-92A aircraft, which replace the two Gap SAR S-92 aircraft.

Chief pilot, Captain Ben Clarke, said: “This is a landmark year for Stornoway – celebrating our 30th anniversary, and now formally joining our colleagues as part of the UK’s overarching strategic search and rescue response team provided within the UKSAR contract.

“The UK SAR service has seen real investment including new bases in a number of locations across the UK, and we look forward to settling into our upgraded facilities later this year too. The arrival of our new UK SAR S-92A aircraft ensures we have the latest technology available to us when we head out on a mission.

“My teams’ focus is always on bringing people home safely from a SAR operation, being dedicated to year-round training, and living up to the incredibly high standard that the UK’s search and rescue service has been renowned for delivering for more than 70 years, from both military and civilian operations.

“Stornoway may be seen as a remote setting in the eyes of many people – but we are absolutely vital for that reason, as the provision of helicopter support to people living and working in and around the islands, is all the more important due to the location. We are proud to support our North West Coast and Hebridean communities, responding to a wide range of incidents from mountain to western Atlantic and assisting tourist, locals and professional mariners alike,” adds Capt Clarke.

“Alongside our colleagues throughout the UK, we rely on the public for their continued support, but also in terms of preparing themselves as well as possible before they venture out on land and at sea, and for providing accurate information when calling 999 for assistance.”

In common with its sister sites around the UK, the Stornoway base has a team of 30, including pilots, engineers, winch operators, winchman paramedics and support staff. Located at Stornoway airport, in the north-west of Lewis. Bristow began operating the UK SAR helicopter service on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in 2015, after winning the tender in 2013.

For further information please contact:
Maritime and Coastguard Agency Press Office:
020 381 72222

Bristow Helicopters Communications:
01224 211045

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.

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 provider of helicopter 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, beginning in 1971 at RAF Manston, and has flown more than 60,000 SAR operational hours in the UK and conducted over 15,000 SAR missions, during which more than 7,000 people have been rescued by Bristow crews and helicopters. For more information on Bristow’s SAR operations, please visit

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.

About Bristow Group 
Bristow Group Inc. is the leading provider of helicopter services to the worldwide offshore energy industry based on the number of aircraft operated and one of two helicopter service providers to the offshore energy industry with global operations. The company has major transportation operations in the North Sea, Nigeria and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, and in most of the other major offshore oil and gas producing regions of the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia and Trinidad. For more information, visit the Company's website at