That is it then – End of an era ARCC Farewell.

A good friend wrote this as the ARCC closed at Kinloss Barracks finally yesterday:



“Well that’s it then, the ARCC computers were switched off for the last time at 5 pm this afternoon and around 12 people turned up in the Abbey Inn to commemorate the demise of an organisation that coordinated countless rescues of thousands of lives over the past 20+ yrs. Not a whisper in the national or local press so far, let’s see what tomorrow brings. The fine work that the yellow SAR helicopters, RAF MRTs and retired Nimrods have done has slowly been disappearing from our screens and newspapers over the past few years, probably by design, so that when the end comes they can fade away without public outcry. Well it worked. Goodbye Military SAR, I was proud to serve and I know lots of people were pleased to be on the receiving end of your service”

I was very luck to spend my last years in the RAF working in the ARCC and it was an incredible job once I got the hang of the technology ( Did I ever). I was there with my expertise in Mountain Rescue and aircraft incidents and had great help especially from some of the young techy controllers and even the older ones and I sure they learned off me as well.   It was a unique place to work every day so different and no matter what the task so many lives saved. I met so many great people all over the UK and abroad, so many good people. It is sad that it is gone and military SAR is finished lost in Defence cuts apart from the three RAF Mountain Rescue Teams I wonder for how long?

In my early days as Team Leader in the RAF Mountain Rescue was a visitor to the ARCC at Pitreavie near Dunfermline. I had many calls in the middle of the night by phone to alert us for call -outs, so many my partner thought I had a girlfriend? So many incidents from Lockerbie to tragic mountain incidents and many run of the mill incidents. We got to know the Controllers many were hardened SAR operators and some were at the beginning of their military careers. I made many friends and even a few that have lasted over the years. Every day/incident was different but it was a great period in my life and a great privileged to learn form some of the best and teach them a bit as well!

The ARCC a long time ago

The ARCC a long time ago

There may be a big formal dinner for the establishment  in London or elsewhere where the so-called “great and good will gather ” and Military SAR will be gone. Glasses will be raised by faceless people but few of those who were involved will be there. This is how it is done nowadays. Miltary SAR  was a huge benefit to many all over the UK and showed the softer belly of the military that everyone loved and will be missed.

Many of us were lucky to have served in the “Golden Age Of SAR” and I for one may raise a glass and thank all involved for some great days and meeting incredible people all over UK and abroad.

Thanks to all for your efforts  and all the best to those that follow on with the new SAR Contract these are changed days but I am sure the people involved are still the same.

I hope the leadership appreciates what they have as the public do?

Thanks for the memories! To all those who I worked with over the years to many to name many thanks  for the memories.

The ARCC –

“The RAF Search and Rescue organisation was established formally in 1941 to aid all military aircrew in trouble over land or sea while training or on operations. By the end of World War II more than 8000 aircrew and 5000 civilians had been rescued. In the five decades since then more than 55,000 people have been rescued by the RAF, Royal Navy and HM Coastguard helicopter crews, and RAF Mountain Rescue Teams based around the UK, augmented sometimes by assistance from SAR assets operated by neighbouring countries, and by commercial and civilian operators.

Early on it became apparent that there was a need to coordinate and task search and rescue operations; this situation lead to the formation of the UK Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) which fulfilled international agreements for the provision of SAR under the ICAO. From 1941 until the end of 1997 there were two ARCCs, one at Plymouth and at Edinburgh, however, two were combined in 1997 at RAF Kinloss, where the ARCC is currently based. Now Kinloss Barracks.


Although originally established for the provision of SAR for military personnel, the ARCC today receives most of its requests for assistance from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Police forces and ambulance authorities, as well as being alerted by Air Traffic Control organisations. Today, the ARCC is the only organisation that may task an aeronautical SAR asset in the UK SAR Region. It co-ordinates an extensive list of activities associated with SAR operations, including overland search planning, refuelling arrangements, airspace considerations, multi-agency communications, and co-ordination with other emergency aircraft, ambulances, hospitals and so on.

Additionally, the ARCC embraces the UK Mission Control Centre (UKMCC) which is the UK facility responsible for the detection and notification of emergency distress beacon alerts. The UKMCC operates within the Cospas-Sarsat framework and is able to detect beacon activations world-wide through a network of satellites. The ARCC carries out its roles using an extensive array of communications and a highly capable IT-based Rescue Co-ordination System. The ARCC is extensively linked with other organisations and interacts closely with numerous emergency response groups and agencies across the UK and internationally. Annually, it receives more than 3600 requests for assistance, deploying assets on more than 2600 occasions and directly assisting over 2100 people. “

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
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2 Responses to That is it then – End of an era ARCC Farewell.

  1. Ian Rideout says:

    A sad day indeed and yet again no obvious public recognition for the personnel who manned ARCC day and night, co-ordinating, helping or just being that effective, reliable point of contact for rescuers on the ground. They were always there even when you had no direct contact with the police. The controllers at ARCC knew the terrain, understood the mountains and were familiar with all the complexities of SAR in remote environments. So much knowledge and wisdom now lost to the MOCC based down in Fareham, the only up side is that we still have crews now working for Bristow who have come through the military SAR system and have in depth knowledge of the Highlands of Scotland.

    ARCC was a place that just oozed with quiet professionalism, a place that always gave you a a buzz, a place where you were always welcome. I spent many hours there back in the early 2000’s working with Uncle Tom (Taylor) in drafting various versions of the UK SAR Implementation and Control Docs, Framework Updates and determining protocols for the UK SAR Band Plan for communications.

    To all those ex-ARCC personnel still with us and those who have gone to the big co-ordination centre in the sky, I say a heartfelt thank-you for everything you did to help save lives and bring home those who were lost.

    Liked by 1 person

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