THE Shoreham Herald joined Coxswain Steve Smith of the Shoreham Lifeboat on a night exercise with the new Agusta Westland AW139 SAR Helicopter based at Lydd in Kent, writes John Periam.
Having taken over the contract for the Maritime Coastguard Agency in April 2015 for the UK, Bristow Helicopters are currently setting up their new SAR centres around our coasts. Lydd in Kent is one of the new operational centres covering a large part of the south east corner of the UK.
The AW139 is the latest helicopter to be produced and equipped by Agusta Westland to undertake SAR missions. It is the only new generation helicopter in its category and is designed to meet the latest and future long range, high endurance requirement for search and rescue missions in the most demanding operational environmental conditions.
Peter Huxtable MBE, Shoreham Lifeboat operations manager, said: “The exercise went on for well over an hour with the AW139 working alongside our All Weather Lifeboat and the Inshore Lifeboat. We took extra crew along so it would give all an opportunity to see first-hand the operational capabilities of the helicopter, more exercises are planned over the next few months.”
Many will remember the days when the RAF and Royal Navy ran their own SAR units. Due to recent MOD cutbacks, these have now been disbanded and Bristow’s have taken over the full contract.
Fishermen owe a lot to the MCA and RNLI who provide such excellent support to them when in need. The RNLI also has a dedicated fisheries’ team managed by Frankie Horne.