Consortiums to splash out £5bn in UK's big Coastguard sell-off

Britain's coastal search and rescue operations up for grabs in Government's controversial sale of public services

Four consortiums of British and overseas companies are bidding to secure a controversial £5bn contract that will see the partial privatisation of HM Coastguard.

The deal, involving the outsourcing of Britain's coastal helicopter search and rescue operations, is one of the largest private finance initiatives in the UK to date.

The Ministry of Defence and the Department for Transport will begin a process of "competitive dialogue" with each of the bidding groups next month after four months spent vetting their financial and technical capabilities.

The contract, estimated to be worth between £3bn and £5bn, includes everything from the provision of helicopters to the training of personnel and maintenance of equipment at 12 coastguard bases around the country. The contracts will have a term of between 20 and 30 years.

US defence giant Lockheed Martin has formed a consortium with shipbuilding and services group VT and British International, a helicopter company. It is up against a team of Thales of France and Canada's CHC Helicopter and another comprised of Bristow Helicopters, FB Heliservices, a joint venture between Cobham and Bristow, and service company Serco. A fourth group is made up AgustaWestland and Bond Helicopter.

The outsourcing deal is likely to be another controversial example of the Government's continuing commitment to transfer huge swathes of Britain's public services to private ownership as it seeks to cut costs and increase efficiency.

Last month, the Defence Secretary, Des Browne, awarded a 25-year military training contract worth up to £16bn to a consortium led by QinetiQ, the former Government defence research labs. That sparked accusations of a conflict of interest on the part of the Government, which is a 20 per cent shareholder in QinetiQ.

The MoD and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is part of the DfT, will begin talks with the bidding groups on 12 March to clarify its requirements and allow the bidders to hone their offers.

Search and rescue involves a wide range of services and government groups, including the police, fire and ambulance services, as well as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The bidders will eventually be whittled down to two, which will then face off in an auction. The contract is not expected to come into effect until 2012. CHC and Thales UK won an interim five-year contract to carry out coastguard's helicopter services at four UK bases.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor