HMS Gannet named busiest search and rescue unit

A crew member is winched from a Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet during a training exercise. Picture: Getty
A crew member is winched from a Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet during a training exercise. Picture: Getty
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Scotland’s busiest search and rescue unit responded to more than 300 call outs last year.

Crews based at the Royal Navy’s HMS Gannet in Prestwick, Ayrshire, came to the aid of 327 people in 2013, according to new figures.

The base’s three Sea King Mark 5 aircraft were called out to 329 incidents, making it the second busiest search and rescue unit in the UK after RAF Valley on Anglesey in Wales.

The figure is up from 298 call outs in 2012 when a total of 285 people were rescued.

HMS Gannet covers an area of around 98,000 square miles, including northern England, Northern Ireland, southern, central and western Scotland and 200 miles out into the Atlantic.

Government figures show it responded to 43% of 878 helicopter call outs in Scotland last year. The remainder saw crews tasked from the country’s three other search and rescue bases - RAF Lossiemouth and the Coastguard at Stornoway and Sumburgh on Shetland.

HMS Gannet commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Andy Drodge, said: “I am incredibly proud of HMS Gannet’s contribution to Scotland and the UK’s search and rescue organisation.

“This is a true testament to the professionalism, grit and determination not only of the aircrew, but also the maintenance and support staff which keeps our helicopters ready to fly at a moment’s notice.

“I must also acknowledge the many agencies with which we work and commend their skill and professional capabilities.

“In particular, the police, ambulance, fire and coastguard services, the medical authorities, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and the enormously committed mountain rescue teams - both the RNLI and the MRTs rely entirely on volunteers to do their jobs, which makes their contribution to the search and rescue community yet more remarkable.

“We work very closely, too, with the other helicopter SAR units - the Coastguard in Stornoway and the RAF in both Lossiemouth and Boulmer in Northumberland - and we thoroughly appreciate support we have been given from them.”


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