This was published in the Northern Scot by a good friend it is worth a read. I will be blogging on the 30/31 st of March to say Farewell to the RAF Lossiemouth Sea Kings on the 1 st of April
RAF Search & Rescue is slipping into oblivion without a passing thought or a thank you
It was a suitable tribute that the country remembered and said thank you all the servicemen and women for their part in the Afghanistan campaign in St Pauls Cathedral; however, 31st March 2015 marks the start of the end of Royal Air Force Search and Rescue (SAR) within the UK, a proud 74 year record.
RAF Search and Rescue developed during wartime with the aim of rescuing downed airmen and has expanded over the years to cover all aspects of aviation and many aspects of sea and land rescue ever since, rescuing literally hundreds of thousands of people. The SAR squadrons like the Nimrods, is now to be thrown on the scrapheap without a single word of recognition or thanks for their outstanding work.
RAF SAR formally started in 1946 after several years operating within the military. In 1947 the Chicago convention laid down guide lines for all governments to adhere too, to provide SAR within the UK SAR region, this is a one and a quarter million square mile area surrounding us . The 31st March 2015 will see the drawdown of this section of the RAF which has provided immediate life saving within this area in some of the most hostile environments known to man, from night rescues on Ben Nevis in winter storms to force 9 gales during the Fastnet race to name but a few.
E flight 202 squadron RAF Lossiemouth is the first flight to close its doors and, as the only RAF helicopter flight left in Scotland, it will be a sad day for Scotland and in particular Moray. The government cuts, within the military spending, has seen the demise in the UK’s ability to maintain a maritime patrol of our island nation with the loss of the Nimrod and its vital role in protecting the security of UK waters and in particular its role in Search and Rescue and with now the demise of the Sea King sees another nail in the coffin in the ability to uphold our nations responsibility to maintain security within the UK SAR region.
Another loss for Moray is the relocation of the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination centre from Kinloss to Fareham, Hampshire in April next year. This centre of excellence, in all matters aviation, is being handed from the RAF (mandated by the Civil Aviation Authority to control civil and military SAR) to the Maritime Coastguard Agency, a maritime agency who excels at matters Maritime, but has little knowledge of matters aviation. One should never forget the Air India flight 182, a 747 that was bombed and crashed in the Atlantic on 23rd June 1985 in which the RAF, controlled by the ARCC, provided many Nimrods and Sea Kings, back to back over many days searching for survivors. Lockerbie was another disaster that Royal Air Force SAR provided, vital forces from control by the ARCC to many helicopters providing support along with the RAF Mountain Rescue teams, who provided expert teams on the ground for many weeks after the crash – will RAF MRT be next to be hit by government cuts! Will the new UK SAR agency be able to fill these truly awesome boots? I doubt it!
I know that the contract for aviation Search and Rescue has been awarded to Bristow’s and I am sure they will perform admirably, however I think the complete handover of UK Search and Rescue to contractors and agencies is a step too far in the bid to save money which I am sure in the long run it will not.
So, I say to all the servicemen and women past and present, not forgetting our Royal Naval SAR colleagues who are also being axed, thank you for a great job done you will be remembered by many, if not all of us.