Sea King Helicopters: Asbestos

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 6th November 2018.

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Photo of Martin Docherty Martin Docherty Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Industries of the Future and Blockchain Technologies)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when his Department was first notified of asbestos in the Sea King helicopter fleet.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has known about the presence of asbestos in Sea King helicopters since they entered service in 1969 and it has been managed in accordance with the regulations in place at the time.

As part of the wider remit to reduce and eliminate Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) in military systems, progressive action was taken since 1999 to reduce ACM in the Sea King fleet. By 2006, as major ACM components had been replaced and the risk was identified as very low, remaining ACM components were replaced as and when maintenance allowed.

Earlier this year, a routine maintenance training activity being conducted on a retired Sea King airframe revealed the presence of asbestos and immediate containment measures were put in place. Subsequent investigation identified that the MOD supply chain had not been purged of ACM components, with the risk that these components could still be fitted to Sea King helicopters. Action has been taken to remove these components from the supply chain, initial guidance has been issued to serving and former personnel and further information will be made available as soon as we are able to do so.

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