SAR Deal Under Investigation

Discussion in 'The Fleet Air Arm' started by soleil, Jan 28, 2011.

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  1. Rescue-helicopter deal under investigation

    FT January 27 2011

    Military police are investigating allegations of improper conduct during bidding for a £6bn privatisation of the search and rescue helicopter service, bringing the deal to the brink of collapse.

    Concerns over the alleged misconduct have prompted Royal Bank of Scotland to quit as an equity partner in the Soteria consortium, the government’s preferred bidder for the deal, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

    The withdrawal of the bank comes as ministers await the conclusion of a Whitehall inquiry, involving Ministry of Defence police, before deciding whether to scrap, retender or press on with the private finance initiative project.

    Two senior Whitehall figures have told the Financial Times that the concerns relate to access to information during the competitive tender and the relationship between a military officer, who has since left the forces, and CHC, a Canadian helicopter operator and Soteria member.

    “This is extremely serious,” said one minister. Last month Philip Hammond, transport secretary, told the Commons that he had suspended talks after the Soteria consortium informed the MoD “of a possible issue”, hours before the deal was to receive approval to proceed.

    Even if the concerns over impropriety prove unfounded, those involved in the negotiations say the withdrawal of RBS could be fatal for the Soteria bid, as it will be difficult to find another equity partner.

    Ministers are now urgently examining alternatives for the search and rescue service, which presently relies on a fleet of ageing Sea King helicopters. One sensitive issue is whether to maintain all 12 bases around the country.

    If a breach of rules is identified or the consortium is unable to fulfil its bid, the government will be forced to scrap the project or retender the contract – a drawn-out process that will probably require costly work to extend the air-life of existing helicopters.

    The concern over the bidding process is the latest setback for the controversial search and rescue project.

    The consortium – comprising CHC, Thales UK, RBS and Sikorsky – was chosen as preferred bidder last February. But the PFI deal was suspended soon after the election as newly appointed ministers at the defence and transport departments launched a review to find savings and restructure some terms.

    Coalition ministers were minded to abandon the PFI model altogether but decided the bidding process was too advanced to scrap it without incurring legal penalties.
    Their revisions to the deal involved phasing out almost all military involvement, leaving the service to be delivered by private pilots and the Maritime Coastguard Agency.

    The new service would replace more than 40 helicopters operated by the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and the Maritime Coastguard Agency with S92 helicopters made by America’s Sikorsky.

    Downing Street recently admitted Prince William, who has trained as a search and rescue pilot, was one of those who had raised concerns directly with David Cameron, prime minister, over the planned sell-off.

    RBS confirmed that it had withdrawn from the consortium but declined to comment further. Soteria said: “The other partners are continuing to work with the procuring authority and feel it is inappropriate to comment any further until these discussions have been completed.”

    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  2. They reckon some high ranking crab, left and became a director of one of 'the companys'.Insider info, and all that. Would say watch this space. good PR for the Royals to say Willy Wales had something to do with it. Bad smell of fish about the whole thing. Head of the Irish section of this (Which is all connected) Is said to be a bit of a shifty customer too
  3. The first paragraph did it for me, "Military police are investigating". Or do I suspect more bad journalism.
  4. Perhaps Flight Lieutenant Willie and his family are regretting spending a million pounds of public money training him as a SAR chopper pilot. Fewer and fewer downed aircrew to be pulled from the sea and his not being available this summer to pluck out the odd overweight Li-Lo surfer.
    When he returns from honeymoon he'll have been promoted to too senior a rank in the RAF to carry out such menial tasks in any event
  5. Saving life - menial!!!!!!

    What an uneventful worthless life I have evidently led! What a pratt!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  6. Yep. Such incidents never occur these days.
  7. Menial for a Royal Prince of soon to be exalted rank.

    Quite different for a hairy-arsed pussers wafu.
  8. Nice one Waspie:angel7: Forgive Him Lord, He Knows Not of What He Speaks Ps Easy Easy and Steady:laughing2:
  9. I disagree, anyone (King desig or not), involved in life saving cannot be deemed to carrying out a menial duty. SAR pilot or swimmer of the watch they have a worthwhile duty to perform.

    He can't do the same as little brother and hat off to him for doing something. Good on him, piloting a SAR aircraft in shit weather is not as easy as folk seem to think.
  10. Few downed aircrew however. That is what SAR is there for. Rescuing downed crew from ditched military aircraft or injured sailors from warships or soldiers from ammunition barges. That sort of thing. All thin on the ground these days. Given that, an extension of the RLI with helicopters would make economic sense.
    It is ludicrous, and ludicrously expensive, that military choppers and crews should spend most of their time rescuing foolish holidaymakers-- That is for someone else to do
  11. :salute:My Bold an aircrewman is a man for all seasons:angel7:
  12. Canteenflat, the military SAR assets actually are paid for by the Dept of Trade and Industry. In days of yor you are quite correct the SAR complete with SAR Diver was there for the rescue of downed aircrew, and in the 60's and 70's there was quite a few.

    As a side line when not picking up downed airmen they, as a courtesy were allowed to carry out SAR tasks as directed by the RCC's, (Rescue Coordination Centres).

    Military SAR aircraft are inherently more expensive than Civ SAR as mil aircraft are maintained more and the crews cost more. So it was obvious to the money men that a move to civilianise that side of it was a better financial option. Not necessarily better service. Although that statement is debatable.
  13. I was under the impression that the RN maintained a dedicated SAR squadron as a centre of excellence and learning, so that when that hurricane hits on a lonely night somewhere in the wider world, we have qualified and capable crews with the experience and learning built upon it. I appreciate that not many pilots/observors ever have much to do with 771 NAS, but it's continued operation keeps the Fleet Air Arm learning and evaluating the latest techniques and technologies.

    Yes, civvies are cheaper, but perhaps the real value is in the training, rather than the rescuing?
  14. Most of us 'civvies' are ex military. and the on going training is just as good in civlant. But the military should keep their skillsets current for future scenarios, and it provides an excellent drip feed
    of well trained pers for the coastguard,and employment for ex matelots.
  15. Can any of you old farts remember the Annual International SAR competition they used to run?

    771 won it 3 years on the trot and the comp. fell by the wayside!!!! (Crabs never got a look in!!!).

    Precision, concentration, professionalism and a 'cunning plan' were good attributes to have when putting a helo inches from a cliff face.

    All that in a single engined Wx1.
  16. Was it the Boyd Trophy?????

  17. Scouse, I haven't got a clue. It was way back in the dark ages. The Whirlwind had just been superseded by the Wessy! (Circa 71).

    I always remember the hi and lo level winching they used to practice with a bucket of water and an obstacle course resembling a gymkhana on the footie field behind the GCA radar at Portland. (Twas a sprog grubber way back then).
  18. FT

    Rescue helicopter sell-off grounded

    By Alex Barker, Political Correspondent

    Published: February 7 2011 21:11

    Ministers will today cancel advanced plans for the £6bn privatisation of the search-and-rescue helicopter service, citing concerns over misconduct in the bidding process.

    The last-minute decision to scrap the competition comes after military police were called in to investigate the alleged mishandling of commercially sensitive information by former Ministry of Defence staff.

    While the full repercussions of the decision remain unclear, dropping the private finance initiative programme will force officials to find a new long-term solution for the service.

    This could include redesigning the model for a privatisation, changing the required number of search-and-rescue bases, excluding the military in the delivery of the service or extending the programme to include other emergency services.

    Cancelling the privatisation will also require the government to put in place some potentially costly interim measures to provide a continuation of service. Depending on the length of delay, this could include an upgrade to extend the air life of the existing Sea King helicopter fleet.

    The announcement will be a heavy blow to the Soteria consortium, comprising CHC, Thales UK and Sikorsky, which had been chosen as a preferred bidder in February and was within days of receiving a green light for the project in December.

    It will also amplify calls for a review of MoD rules on the employment of civil servants and military officers by defence companies during sensitive commercial competitions.

    The police investigation, which is expected to continue for some weeks, is focusing on access to information and the role of a military officer who helped to set the evaluation criteria and requirements for the privatisation before leaving to join CHC.

    Ministers ordered an inquiry after the consortium flagged up a “possible issue”, hours before Philip Hammond, transport secretary, was set to announce the deal was going ahead.

    Since the talks were halted in December, Royal Bank of Scotland has quit asanequitypartnerinSoteria over its concerns at the alleged misconduct. Soteria declined to comment until the government makes a formal announcement.

    To critics of the MoD, the collapse of the privatisation exposes some of the endemic problems in defence procurement, which ministers say they are determined to overhaul.

    Senior Whitehall figures have told the Financial Times that a rival bidder wrote a letter raising the alarm in 2008 over a potential breach of confidentiality after discovering that military officers handling the privatisation had taken jobs with CHC.

    The MoD told the UK Air Consortium, which withdrew from the bid because of its concerns, that it was satisfied there was no evidence of wrongdoing. However, one of the officers named in the letter has since emerged as the focus of the police investigation into the privatisation.

    The new service had been designed to replace more than 40 helicopters operated by the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and the Maritime Coastguard Agency with S92 helicopters made by Sikorsky of the US.

    Some revisions to the deal proposed since the election involved phasing out almost all military involvement, leaving the service to be delivered by private pilots and the Maritime Coastguard Agency.

    Downing Street recently admitted Prince William, who has trained as a search-and-rescue pilot, was one of those who had raised concerns with David Cameron, prime minister, over the planned sell-off.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011

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