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Armed Forces: Rescue Services

Volume 507: debated on Monday 15 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what other aircraft his Department has with the capability equivalent to a Nimrod MR2 in (a) co-ordinating major off-shore incidents and multi-agency rescues and (b) locating vessels that are in distress during adverse weather and low-light conditions. (321325)

The Aeronautical Air Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (ARCC), based at RAF Kinloss, is responsible for co-ordinating major off-shore incidents and multi-agency rescues. The ARCC works in consort with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, an Executive agency of the Department for Transport, who has a statutory duty under the coastguard Act 1925 for the initiation and co-ordination of civil maritime search and rescue within the United Kingdom Search and Rescue Region. All requests for assistance from the other emergency services throughout the United Kingdom—police, fire, ambulance and coastguard—are handled by the ARCC.

An on the scene co-ordinator may be designated, if required, by the ARCC. If appropriate, this could be an RAF aircraft. All large aircraft are capable of contributing to a search and rescue operation and are equipped with the long and short-range radios required to communicate with the ARCC. The UK has a range of air assets fitted with radars that can be used to support search and rescue tasks in adverse weather and low-light conditions over water. Additionally C-130 and Sea King Mk 3/3A aircraft can carry crew members equipped with night vision goggles.