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Michael Penning (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport; Hemel Hempstead, Conservative)

On 13 July 2011 the Department for Transport commenced a procurement competition for search and rescue helicopter services to replace the existing contracted Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) capability. The procurement process has now concluded, and I wish to inform the House of the results.

A contract has been signed to operate search and rescue services from Stornoway and Shetland with Bristow Helicopters Ltd. A separate contract has been signed with CHC Scotia Bristow Helicopters Ltd to operate search and rescue services from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency bases at Portland and Lee-on-the-Solent. Operations under both contracts will commence by the time the existing MCA service contract expires, and will continue until June 2017. Both contracts will be managed by the MCA.

As I announced on 28 November, procurement is now under way for longer-term arrangements that will see search and rescue contracted nationally. Operations will commence under these longer-term arrangements during 2015 and the future contractor for the UK will assume responsibility for the MCA capability during 2017.

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