News back in April confirmed that Bristow would be maintaining a permanent service run from Lydd Airport and not from Manston as initially planned.
Although we continue to be disappointed that Manston isn’t available to run the service, we are glad that Kent does have an operating base despite previously held concerns over the location at Lydd. Having seen their call out to the Herne Bay airshow at the weekend, the priority must be the ability for Bristow to maintain a permanent base within the area.
“AUGUST 16, 2016
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 London Ashford Airport.
The HM Coastguard service became operational at Lydd on 14 August 2015 and statistics for the base’s first year, show that the crew at Lydd responded to over 180 taskings from the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC).
Chief Pilot at Lydd SAR, Captain Neil Robertson, said: “It has been an enormous privilege to deliver such an important service over the past year and we look forward to delivering many more. It has been an incredible 12 months with some really challenging taskings. I’d like to thank the surrounding communities for making us feel so welcome. Many of the crew, myself included, spent a number of years here while serving at RAF Wattisham. It’s great to be home and we look forward to moving into our permanent base once it’s ready.”
Earlier this year the Department for Transport confirmed that Lydd would be the permanent base for the service in the south east. Plans are now underway to build a new search and rescue facility at the airport.
Russell Torbet, newly appointed director of UK SAR, said: “The crews at Lydd have done a tremendous job over the past year. RAF Wattisham set the bar incredibly high and I’m delighted to see that our crews are carrying on that legacy. We are extremely proud to be delivering this long running and vital service and we hope that the work of our crews is of value to the communities they serve.”
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, two of which are already operated by Bristow, are set to become part of the new contract in 2017.”