Leconfield Sea Kings sold off

Search and Rescue Helicopters based at RAF Leconfield will no longer operate from the site after a deal was signed with a US company to replace the Sea King fleet.

The move comes after a £1.6 billion contract for search and rescue (SAR) helicopters to be managed by Bristow Helicopters Ltd was signed with the Department for Transport on Tuesday 26 March.

It is expected the new SAR base will operate from an unconfirmed location in Humberside.

A spokesperson from the RAF told the Times & Post no job losses would be suffered by the Leconfield base, although search and rescue staff members can apply for positions at Bristow to provide continuity of service.

However George McManus, Parliamentary Spokesman for Beverley and Holderness Labour Party has expresses concern over the changes.

He said: “This is a real shock. The yellow Sea King helicopters are an institution in East Yorkshire.

“They provide reassurance and a first class service. It seems there is nothing that this government will not sell for the sake of profit. Is nothing sacred?

“Something like this should be kept as a public service and should remain under public control. It is a sad day for RAF Leconfield and a sad day for East Yorkshire.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “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.”

Under the new contract, 22 helicopters will operate from 10 UK locations.