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Search and Rescue privatisation is 'step into the unknown'

Ieuan Wyn Jones, Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn says that selling off the search and rescue service to a private contractor is "a step into the unknown."

Speaking following the announcement which will see the service move from Anglesey to Caernarfon.

The current search and rescue service operated by the RAF at Valley has been an excellent service for 70 years. It has saved hundreds of lives by rescuing people not only from the mountains of Wales but also those who have found themselves in difficulties around our coastline. This is a much valued service based at RAF Valley.

– Ieuan Wyn Jones AM, Plaid Cymru

New search and rescue fleet

Two Augusta Westland AW-192 helicopters will be based at St Athan Credit: Bristow Helicopters

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 Airport will get two Sikorsky S-92 helicopters Credit: Bristow Helicopters

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.

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Transport Secretary welcomes Search & Rescue deal

The Department for Transport has signed a contract with Bristow Helicopters Ltd to provide search and rescue helicopter services in the UK.

The deal will see two helicopters based at Caernarfon Airport, and a new base will be set up at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Our search and rescue helicopter service plays a crucial role, saving lives and providing assistance to people in distress on both land and on sea. With 24 years of experience providing search and rescue helicopter services in the UK, the public can have great confidence in Bristow and their ability to deliver a first class service with state of the art helicopters.

– Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin
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Duke of Cambridge's base could be shut down

The Duke of Cambridge shows his father one of the RAF's distinctive yellow Sea King helicopters at RAF Valley on Anglesey Credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

Among the 12 bases from where search and rescue operations are launched is RAF Valley on Anglesey, where the Duke of Cambridge is based.

Under the contracts due to be unveiled tomorrow, the total number of bases is expected to be cut from 12 to10 although it is not clear which bases will be closed.

Assurances have already been given that the Duke will be moved to another part of the military rather than being employed by the firm that is awarded the search and rescue contracts.

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Funeral of Scottish avalanche victim held in Bangor

Squadron Leader Rimon Than Credit: Ministry of Defence

The funeral of Squadron Leader Rimon Than, 33, will be held at Bangor Cathedral this morning.

The Senior Medical Officer with RAF Valley was one of three people killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands on 14th February.

The Chalamain Gap area of the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/Press Association Images

RAF Valley pays tribute to Sqn Ldr Rimon Than

Sqn Ldr Rimon Than was the Senior Medical Officer at RAF Valley and was a fine, dedicated officer and doctor. He was passionate about mountaineering and his death is a tragedy. He was well respected and popular and will be sorely missed by all personnel at RAF Valley. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.

– Group Captain Adrian Hill, Station Commander, RAF Valley

I had the honour of working with Sqn Ldr Rimon Than. He was an approachable and lovable character always willing to listen and offer advice when needed, always promoting the team ethos.

Through his relaxed, intelligent and calming influence he commanded the respect of his section and led through example of enjoying every opportunity the service has to offer.

– Sgt Stuart Hague, Practice Manager, RAF Valley Station Medical Centre
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