Bristow, June 20, 2017 - Ground has been broken at Lydd Airport marking the start of construction of the new HM Coastguard search and rescue (SAR) helicopter base for the south-east, operated by Bristow Helicopters.
The project, an investment of £7.8 million, will create a new focal point for the region’s SAR service and significantly upgrade the facilities used by its crews. Construction is expected to be completed by early February 2018.
Lydd is the final new-build base to be constructed for the UK SAR helicopter service which Bristow Helicopters began operating in April 2015 on behalf of HM Coastguard. SAR operations have been conducted at a temporary base at Lydd Airport since August 2015.
There are 10 Coastguard bases distributed strategically around the UK, providing vital life-saving support on and offshore - to the fishing and other marine industries, as well as to land-based incidents including mountain rescue, missing persons and other medical emergencies.
Each base is staffed by a group of dedicated pilots and specialist winchman paramedics, winch operators, engineers, and support staff, many of whom transferred to the new Coastguard SAR service from the former military operation.
Neil Robertson, chief pilot of Lydd SAR, said: “Lydd is a key location for UK SAR in the south-east of England, providing support across the English Channel, Kent, East and West Sussex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Surrey, Greater London and Essex.
“Our team’s focus is always on bringing people home safely from a search and rescue operation. These new facilities will ensure that during year-round training, and day-to-day operations we are able to live up to the incredibly high standards of the UK SAR service.”
Neil Ebberson, UK SAR project manager, said: “Nationwide, the UK SAR service has handled more than 3,500 search and rescue missions since 1 April 2015. The Lydd base will, like its sister sites across the UK, feature the very best facilities, to ensure our people are able to work and rest in comfort, with all of the support services they need on-hand, when they need them.”
Hani Mutlaq, finance & HR Manager at Lydd Airport, said: “We are pleased that work at the new site of the UK SAR base has started on schedule. This investment is warmly welcomed and coincides with rising passenger numbers, an increase in aircraft traffic, new job creation and substantial investment in facilities, including a multi-million pound runway extension and new hangars here at Lydd.
“This is a very exciting time for the airport and Bristow Helicopters’ decision to commit to developing a new base here has added to that momentum.”
The project is being designed and built by Westridge Construction Ltd, which works throughout South East England. John Sinden, director, said: “We are excited to have been selected to construct a facility that will make such an important contribution to coastal and maritime safety in our area.
“The new building is being delivered in line with the Government Construction Strategy including the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and modular accommodation units that are prefinished offsite before being incorporated into the new hangar. This project adds to our diverse portfolio of buildings and we thank Bristow Helicopters Ltd and UK Search and Rescue for entrusting our company with such a time critical scheme.”
About HM Coastguard: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is a frontline delivery and emergency response organisation which is part of the Department for Transport.
Part of the MCA is HM Coastguard, which provides a UK-wide maritime emergency prevention and response capability which responds to calls for help by radio, satellite or the 999 service and coordinates maritime search and rescue (SAR) within the UK SAR region. The agency helps approximately 25,000 people each year with 21,000 incidents coordinated by its rescue centres.
About Bristow Helicopters Ltd: Bristow Helicopters Ltd is the provider of helicopter search and rescue (SAR) services in the UK, on behalf of Her Majesty's Coastguard, having been awarded the UK SAR contract and the Gap SAR contract for Northern Scotland. Bristow Helicopters has a long history of providing world class SAR services, beginning in 1971 at RAF Manston, and has flown more than 60,000 SAR operational hours in the UK and conducted over 15,000 SAR missions, during which more than 7,000 people have been rescued by Bristow crews and helicopters. For more information on Bristow’s SAR operations, please visit www.bristowsar.com.
Bristow Helicopters Ltd. has served the offshore oil transport industry in the UK for nearly 60 years. Bristow Helicopters Ltd. is an affiliated company of Bristow Group Inc.