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The closing chapter began today in the history of Britain's Sea King search and rescue helicopters - with the announcement that the service will be sold to an American company.
For thirty five years they have provided life saving help and for the past four - a job for Prince William.
ITV News Royal Correspondent Tim Ewart looks back on the Sea King's finest hours.
Seventy year's of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy history will come to a close soon, when a private company takes over helicopter search and rescue operations.
The squadrons who have flown thousands of sorties and saved the lives of countless people will no longer patrol our skies.
ITV News Correspondent Emily Morgan reports:
The region is to lose its only air sea rescue base as part of a radical reshuffle of the service.
The base at Wattisham in Suffolk has been home to 2 RAF Sea King helicopters covering the East coast.
Now the private firm Bristow is to take over the service from the armed forces, and the Wattisham operation will move to Manston in Kent.
After winning the contract to take over search and rescue helicopter cover from the RAF, Bristow Helicopters have released details of the new fleet that will be deployed in April 2015.
There will be two helicopters at both its Welsh bases -Caernarfon Airport and the MOD site at St Athan near Barry.
Caernarfon's Sikorsky helicopters will cover an area of 250 nautical miles around the base and each carry three stretchers and up to 10 seated casualties. Augusta Westlands will cover 200 nautical miles around St Athan and each have room for two stretchers and six seated casualties.
All the helicopters will have a crew of four and be capable of flying at 145 nautical miles an hour.
Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat MP for Inverness, has welcome news that a new search and rescue base will be opened in the city's airport:
The Department for Transport has said that under the new contract helicopters will be able to reach a larger area of the UK Search and Rescue region within an hour of take-off than is currently possible.
It added that, based on historic incident data, it is estimated there will be an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20 percent (from 23 to 19 minutes).
Presently, approximately 70 percent of high and very high-risk areas within the UK SAR region are reachable by helicopter within 30 minutes. Under the new contract, approximately 85 percent of the same area would be reached within this time frame.
The Department for Transport has confirmed the contract to run the UK's search-and-rescue helicopter service has gone to the US-headquartered Bristow Helicopters.
The plans to privatise search and rescue helicopters were laid originally out by the Labour government in 2006.
The plans were controversial, and designed to replace the ageing Sea Kings that were currently in use.
Soteria SAR was announced as the frontrunning bidder in February 2010, but a year later it was prevented from acquiring the contract due to several issues with the conduct of their bid team, as well as forming part of the coalition government's spending review.
The Sea King helicopter has been in service for over four decades, with a distinguished history with the Search and Rescue service as well as other assignments.
- The Sea King has operated in 10 wars and been involved in 15,000 rescue operations
- It has saved more lives than any other aircraft
- It is reportedly Prince William's favourite aircraft
Latest ITV News reports
The Search and Rescue service has been awarded to an American firm, bringing an end to seven decades of service by the military.