North Wales based Coastguard search and rescue helicopter busiest in UK
The new Coastguard search and rescue helicopter base in Caernarfon is the busiest in the UK new figures published today reveal.
The new base has been operational since July 1st this year and the red and white helicopters have been spotted over Deeside a couple of times in recent weeks as they transit to and from missions as far afield as Liverpool and the north West coast, often landing in Wrexham as they transfer patients to A&E care.
Figures published by the Government show the north Wales base is by far the busiest civilian search and rescue helicopter base the UK, in its first three months of operation, July to September – crews flew 129 missions, 40 more than the next busiest SAR helicopter base in Inverness.
The majority of the Caernarfon search and rescue helicopter ‘taskings’ have been land based 73, with many being mountain rescue missions, 41 call outs have been to coastal area’s and 15 maritime missions have been completed since its very first mission, a mountain rescue, which came just eight hours after going live on 1st July.
The new distinctive red and white state-of-the-art Sikorsky S-92 helicopters are operated by US-owned Bristow Helicopters on behalf of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency as part of a £1.6bn contract handed to the firm by the Government.
They are the first type in Europe to be certified for flight with night vision goggles, and can carry up to 21 people each including 3 stretchers staying airborne for around four hours if needed.
Historically north Wales has been the busiest search and rescue region in the UK, the new Sikorsky helicopters replaced the iconic yellow Sea King’s of RAF Valley-based C Flight, that ended 60 years of rescue operations out of RAF Valley where crews flew more than 10,000 missions.
10,000th scramble plaque being proudly displayed in RAF Valley’s Station Headquarters. This provides a lasting legacy to those Service and civilian personnel whose dedication, skill and courage helped save many hundreds of lives over the decades since RAF Search and Rescue helicopter operations started from RAF Valley. It also marks SAR’s long and happy association with RAF Valley and the people of North Wales.”
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