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UK Search & Rescue Capability

Der Alte

UK Search & Rescue Capability - Please sign petition:

Hi All,

First time posting to the site.

I am sure that many of you have been following developments in the search for the crew of the "Cheeky Rafiki" and have been amazed by the power of the social media to build up a petition to lengthen the search.

I am sure many of you will also be shaking your heads and asking if we could mount a similar search, given the resources we have today. I think we know the answer to this: "No, we couldn't."

In the hope that something positive can come from this tragic situation, I would ask you to sign my petition and contact your friends and relatives to do the same.

It asks our government to ensure that we have maritime patrol aircraft capable of searching the ocean (the government allocated a Hercules transport aircraft) and a sufficient number of naval vessels to enable us to re-establish a duty UK guard ship, which could be dispatched to coordinate a search and rescue effort were a similar event to happen on this side of the Atlantic.

Please join this campaign:


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War Hero
Welcome mate.

Part of me agrees Tom, but traditionally the nations nearest the incident take-up the search. We aren't really in a position to set ourselves up as "International Rescue" to locate missing Brits globally and when the SOS shout goes up, all vessels and aircraft in the area respond, whatever their nationality or purpose.

Even when we had things like aircraft carriers, RAF Nimrods and suchlike, we couldn't be everywhere, but a truly "blue water Navy" would be a big improvement in British maritime safety and security, granted.


War Hero
Agree with Ninja.

Under maritime law mariners and aircraft are obliged to assist if they can in any SAR incident. Our Coast Guard goes way beyond our territorial waters in the event of a SAR incident. Our Maritime co-ordination centres also take operational control of incidents way beyond our shores most effectively.

When we had the Nimrod it was a nice asset to have but we must remember it was a Military asset and not a SAR asset.

Der Alte

I am not proposing an "International Rescue" for lost Brits, as you suggest and you are right in stating that it is the responsibility of nearest nation.

As to the reach of our coastguard service; they are equipped with civilianised Merlins (EH101) but I can recall mid-Atlantic rescues in the 80's and 90's performed by the Americans operating out of (I think) RAF Lakenheath using the CH 53, because they have extreme "reach", due to the fact that they can refuel in mid-air.

If you recall that Rockall is claimed by the UK as sovereign territory and it is 13.7 deg W; add on a further 200 nm for the limits of the EEA; and you are out around 20 deg W,

The point I make is in our present state that we cannot reach out there, despite it being claimed as our backyard, for the simple reason that we have had governments who do not put any priority on the seas and oceans around us, save for oil and gas extraction.

We need the capability of getting out there and in the recent past we had Nimrods to get quickly on station and cruise for hours on end; and a duty on-call guard ship (which used to be named on the Bridge Card) that could be despatched when needed.

As to Waspie's final point regarding the purpose of the Nimrod; yes it was a military asset, but we haven't got any MPA capability, so we don't have a choice.

But bearing in mind the efforts to try to locate the missing Malaysian Airways airliner; long range SAR appears to be considered a legitimate military role by the Australians, Chinese, Americans and everyone else who appeared to be able to throw MPA assets at that search.

So why shouldn't we???

Please support the petition.

If I can get 20 like-minded people each to sign up and they can get 20; and those 20 can get 20; that's 80,000 signatures; and if they can get 20 - we have over 1.6 million. The petition to search for those sailors has raised around 250,000 signatures; let's make this something big to ensure that we can meet our obligation, if something happened on this side of the water.

Please join this campaign:

And thanks for the airtime.

Broadcast off.
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As to the reach of our coastguard service; they are equipped with civilianised Merlins (EH101)

Are they? Last I knew they had Sikorskys and AW139s.with Bristow soon to operate S92s and AW189s.

Besides, Civ SAR won't be our responsibility very soon.

Personally I appreciate your goodwill and wish you luck with your petition, but I'm not personally up for throwing money after something we don't necessarily need and can't currently afford.


Lantern Swinger
Book Reviewer
Signed, and good on you for raising interest in maritime matters, shippers.

This whole saga does throw up some interesting perception issues - as I am currently watching a TV advert warning viewers of the dangers associated with train tracks (plot spoiler: trains. Sorry if that's killed the suspense), I think that non-seafaring people expect that waving a UK passport guarantees the full resources of the developed world to be mobilised instantly and on a constant basis until the last Twitter comment indicates that it is acceptable to stand down. We live in a world where people assume there is zero risk to life - witness the silly seasons around MH370 and the sinking of the MV Sewol.

The further away you go from shore, the more complex and costly the effort to locate you - there comes a point where it's not going to happen, for one reason or another. The USAF mounted daring air-sea rescues in the '80s, but they had specialist Combat Search and Rescue assets & personnel who were ready to attempt the mission. That is the exception and not the rule.
There comes a point where sailing beyond a certain distance from shore implies a greater assumption of personal risk - hence the greater requirements for training and equipment for those that do so.

I don't know how we explain that to people who need to be reminded that train tracks occasionally carry trains, which are dangerous...


War Hero
In fairness, the USAF still has specialist long range Personnel Recovery (CSAR in old money) assets based in the UK in the form of MC-130Js, CV-22 and HH-60G.

However, I don't think any assets would've changed the outcome to this tragic case.


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Der Alte


Thanks for the confirmation on the USAF position. And you are right, in this instance it would have made no difference.

However, due to progressive cuts to the budget, we are no longer able to put one of our own assets into our own backyard, which to my mind is an out and out disgrace.

Disregarding earlier comments about the UK Coastguard Agency, who do a fine job but are essentially a coastal organisation in this part of the world, we need our own assets to mount meaningful recovery operations.

Usually, in the past, a British MPA would be sent out to the area where a vessel was in distress and then either a helo, or vessel would be sent to recover the crew, locate survivors etc.

One point which I have not thrown into the arena, but will do now, is that we are seeing a resurgence of Russian nationalism.

Already, there have been attempted incursions into what used to be known as the UKADR by the Russian airforce: how long will it be before their navy starts to test the perimeter and comes back into the North Atlantic: what will the politicians be screaming for then? Answer: ships and MPAs.

We should be using every case we can to advance the cause for restoring these capabilities, because with each passing year they become harder to replace, as the great British taxpaying public becomes accustomed to not having them and the politicians are chasing the next vote winner (which appears to be foreigners and the EU).
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Two words:

Rivet Joint.

Long term we can't afford a one trick pony. Nimrods replacement needs to be multi-role, multi theatre, not solely an MPA so concessions must be made.

There are increasingly loud shouts of C130 conversions from Lockheed Martin. It's a good punt.
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Two words:

Rivet Joint.

Long term we can't afford a one trick pony. Nimrods replacement needs to be multi-role, multi theatre, not solely an MPA so concessions must be made.

There are increasingly loud shouts of C130 conversions from Lockheed Martin. It's a good punt.

I know a company in deepest darkest cambridge that can do the mod

Sent from my iPhone, cos the wife is using MY iPad :(

Der Alte

I do think it is happening, but having spent some time around the Whitehall Circus I have learned that the louder the shout, the more the powers that be take interest. But they have an extraordinarily short attention span, you know.

So you need to keep repeating the message.
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