An HMS Gannet Sea King at work in the Scottish hills. Photo: Ian Arthur/Royal Navy

An HMS Gannet Sea King at work in the Scottish hills. Photo: Ian Arthur/Royal Navy

Royal Navy rescue helicopter engineers have received an award for their achievements by aviation manufacturers Rolls-Royce.

The teams at HMS Gannet in Scotland and the Naval Air Squadron at Culdrose in Cornwall have both shared in the award, made annually by the multinational company.

The Sea King helicopters of the Prestwick-based crews are the busiest search-and rescue craft in Britain, helping with mountain rescue in a large area of western Scotland and northern England.

The Cornish crews also provide search and rescue cover in the West of England.

The Rolls-Royce Aviation Engineering Efficiency Award was made to the Navy Command Sea King Helicopter Force, which includes both bases.

The accolade was awarded to the command for its contribution to UK search and rescue and operations in Afghanistan, and specifically, for the engineering effort and innovation that has allowed the various squadrons to meet the overall demand for their Sea King.

Commander Andy Thompson, the Navy Command headquarters air engineer officer, said: “Gannet SAR Flight, along with her sister unit of 771 at Culdrose, have delivered unprecedented levels of search and rescue response this year.

“And simultaneously they have provided essential night-vision-goggle and environmental training for the SKASAC, which delivers support to joint operations in Afghanistan.”

Gannet’s commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Debdash Bhattacharya added: “This award reflects the exceptional level of engineering support that is essential in allowing us to provide unbroken SAR cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“The superb effort by the engineering personnel who work in all weathers, day and night, to ensure that the SAR aircraft is available has allowed HMS Gannet to be the busiest SAR unit in the UK over the last three years – not only that but to set and break the record for the number of call-outs in each of those years resulting in an all-time high of 447 call-outs in 2009.

“As you can tell, I am very proud that Gannet has played a part in securing this award for the Navy Command Sea King Helicopter Force.”

The airborne support of the Sea King helicopters of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to the volunteer mountain rescue teams enable injured walkers and climbers to be reached and airlifted from Britain’s mountains more quickly than by foot.

The teams are also aided by the Coastguard Sikorsky helicopters.

The Coalition Government announced last month it was shelving the £7bn scheme to replace the Sea King helicopters in a part-privatisation that would have seen HMS Gannet closed and its crews moved to Glasgow airport.

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