Department for Transport
 
 

SEARCH AND RESCUE - HELICOPTER PROJECT

 

PROVISION OF THE UNITED KINGDOM SEARCH AND RESCUE - HELICOPTER CAPABILITY

SAR Helicopter Harmonisation

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) together provide a 24-hour military and civil helicopter SAR service for the UK SAR Region from 12 bases* around the UK. Currently this SAR helicopter service is provided by Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Sea Kings and a civilian helicopter service (utilising Agusta Westland AW139s and Sikorsky S92s) under contract to the MCA.

Commonality of function between the MCA and MOD SAR helicopter forces and similar timeframes for the potential introduction of new aircraft fleets led Ministers from the Department for Transport (DfT) and the MOD to announce (on 9 May 2006) a cross-government approach to the acquisition of a harmonised UK SAR Helicopter Service. A joint MCA and MOD Project Team based at MoD Abbey Wood (South) in Bristol, has been tasked with running the project.

The following Ministerial Statement was made on 8 February 2011:

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Philip Hammond):

On 16 December I and my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced that information had come to light regarding the preferred bid in the Search and Rescue Helicopter competition which required clarification.

In mid December, the Preferred Bidder in the SAR-H competition, Soteria, voluntarily came forward to inform the government of irregularities regarding the conduct of their bid team which had only then recently come to light.   The irregularities included access by one of the consortium members, CHC Helicopter, to commercially sensitive information regarding the joint MOD/DfT project team’s evaluations of industry bids and evidence that a former member of that project team had assisted the consortium in its bid preparation, contrary to explicit assurances given to the project team at the time.

Since December, our two Departments have been working with Soteria to better understand the situation and its implications for the procurement process.  In addition, the Ministry of Defence Police are investigating how the commercially sensitive information came to be in the possession of the bidder.  It would be inappropriate to comment further on the details of the investigation until it has finished.

However, even without the outcome of that investigation, the Government has sufficient information to enable it to conclude that the irregularities that have been identified were such that that it would not be appropriate to proceed with either the preferred bid or with the current procurement process.

The Department for Transport and the Ministry of Defence will now consider the potential procurement options to meet future requirements for search and rescue helicopters in the United Kingdom, including options to maintain continuity of search and rescue helicopter cover until new longer term arrangements can be put in place.

We will make a further announcement once a way forward has been agreed.

   *The current SAR helicopter capability is delivered by a combination of MCA, Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (RN) helicopters at 12 bases around the UK mainland as follows - MCA: 4 bases at Lee-on Solent, Portland, Sumburgh and Stornoway; RAF: 6 bases at Chivenor, Wattisham, Valley, Boulmer, Leconfield and Lossiemouth; RN: 2 bases at Culdrose and Prestwick.

Review of UK Search & Rescue (SAR) Helicopter Provision and Coverage Criteria Report 2001

       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- index
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- pt1
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- pt2
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- pt3
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- pt4
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- pt5
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- pt6
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- pt7
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- pt8
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- pt9
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- pt10
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- pt11
       Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- appendix 2-1
        Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Icon UK SAR Helicopter Provision and Coverage Report 2001- appendix 2-2
       UK SAR Helicopter - Update to Provision and Coverage Report 2006