Sea King rescue helicopter fleet will be nearly halved and replaced by American models
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 29 March 2013
The number of search-and-rescue helicopters is expected to be cut from 40 to 22 after the service is privatised, it emerged today.
The Ministry of Defence’s ageing fleet of 40 Sea King helicopters will be retired and replaced with fewer but faster models provided by Texas-based Bristow Helicopters. But the Government insists the service to the public will improve. Under the £1.6bn deal announced on Tuesday, AgustaWestland and Sikorsky aircraft will take the place of the Sea Kings when the RAF and Royal Navy’s 70-year search-and-rescue role ends in 2015.
Richard Drax, the Conservative MP for South Dorset, fears relying on fewer helicopters could put lives at risk. “However fast it is, one helicopter can only be in one place at one time. So by cutting the number of helicopters, that’s a risk,” he said. The MoD said frontline services would not be affected by the cut in numbers as only 16 of the existing Sea Kings are deployed on search missions, with others undergoing maintenance or used for training.
The Department for Transport said: “There will be an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20 per cent (from 23 to 19 minutes). Presently, about 70 per cent of high and very high-risk areas within the UK search-and-rescue region are reachable by helicopter within 30 minutes.
“Under the new contract, [about] 85 per cent of the same area would be reached within this time.”
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
- 5 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Benefits 'smart cards' plan revealed by Iain Duncan Smith to stop claimants spending welfare money on alcohol
- < Previous
- Next >
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...
£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...
Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...