USAAF Station 500
HMS Gannet SAR Flight badge
|Type||Royal Naval Air Station|
as RAF Prestwick
23 November 1971-2016
as RNAS Prestwick
|Ministry of Defence|
HMS Gannet SAR Flight|
The base (which was located at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, South Ayrshire, Scotland) hosted the only Fleet Air Arm Search and Rescue Flight in Scotland (HMS Gannet SAR Flight). It was decommissioned in February 2016.
A number of units were here at some point:
RNAS Prestwick (HMS Gannet)
The ninth and present HMS Gannet was established in 1971 at Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire. Over the years Prestwick has hosted three Naval Air Squadrons: 814 NAS, 824 NAS and 819 NAS. 819 was decommissioned in November 2001 after being in residence for 30 years.
RNAS Prestwick was added in January 1994
HMS Gannet Search and Rescue Flight
The SAR flight was the last flight based at RNAS Prestwick.
It operated two from three Sea King HU.5 helicopters in the military and civilian Search and Rescue role across Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland. The crews covered an area from Ben Nevis in the north, the Isle of Man and the Lake District to the south, east to Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth and the Borders, west to Northern Ireland and extends 200 miles (320 km) west of Ireland over the north Atlantic, giving an operational area of approx. 98,000 square miles.
Personnel at the base consisted of 15 officers, 11 ratings, 28 civil servants and 50 civilian staff. The primary role is one of military Search and Rescue, with secondary roles in civilian Search and Rescue. Gannet also provides an important medical evacuation service to the many island communities and remote areas of Scotland. To perform these roles, one of the helicopters is on 15 minutes notice to fly during the day, and 45 minutes during the night, with a duty crew on call for 24 hours. This duty is maintained for 365 days of the year, with a second standby aircraft ready to assist should the emergency demand it. In 1998 Gannet was awarded the Wilkinson Sword of Peace for services to the local communities.
Consistently one of the busiest SAR units in the UK, 2009 saw the SAR Flight break a new record when they were tasked to 447 call outs. This figure equated to 20% of the UK’s total military SAR call outs in that year. In 2011, the Flight was the busiest SAR unit for the fifth year in succession. In 2010, with 379 call outs. and 2011 with 298 call-outs and 240 people rescued.
In 2012 there were again 298 call-outs resulting in the rescue of 285 people.
As of the 1 January 2016 at 9AM, they were replaced by civilians from Bristow Helicopters and HM Coastguard.
The flight was disbanded on 5 February 2016.
RN SAR 60
As one of only two commissioned units of the 10 that have operated within the Royal Navy in the dedicated Search and Rescue role, in 2013, Gannet SAR Flight was a core part of year-long celebrations to recognise 60 years of RN Helicopter Search and Rescue. Events took place throughout the country and media all year, with the RN SAR Force raising £60,000 for charity.
Transfer of SAR function to Bristow Helicopters
With effect from 1 January 2016, the SAR function which had been performed by the Gannet SAR Flight was transferred to Bristow Helicopters, acting on behalf of HM Coastguard, part of the UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
A number of units were here at some point:
In popular culture
The SAR flight featured regularly on the Channel 5 documentary series Highland Emergency and BBC's "Countryside Rescue".
- "HMS Gannet". Royal Navy. http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/Operations/Enduring-Operations/UK/Search-and-Rescue/HMS-Gannet. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- "HMS Gannet". MOD / Royal Navy. http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/Operations/Enduring-Operations/UK/Search-and-Rescue/HMS-Gannet. Retrieved Oct 24, 2011.
- "HMS Gannet". MOD. http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/Operations/Enduring-Operations/UK/Search-and-Rescue/HMS-Gannet. Retrieved Oct 24, 2011.
- "HMS Gannet named busiest search and rescue unit in UK during 2011". Daily Record. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2012/02/08/scots-based-hms-gannet-named-busiest-search-and-rescue-unit-in-uk-during-2011-86908-23740809/. Retrieved Feb 8, 2012.
- "About the unit - Call-outs in 2012". Royal Navy. http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/sitecore/content/home/the-fleet/aircraft/helicopters/sea-king-mk5/hms-gannet. Retrieved Oct 23, 2013.
- "Military Search And Rescue Statistics 2014". https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/401144/SAR_Annual_Report_Master_FINAL.pdf. Retrieved Apr 2, 2015.
- Cite error: Invalid
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- "Civilian team replaces HMS Gannet search and rescue at Prestwick". BBC News. 1 January 2016. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-35205477.
- Jefford MBE, Wg Cdr C G (1988). RAF Squadrons. A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
- Sturtivant, R; Ballance, T (1994). The Squadrons of The Fleet Air Arm. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-223-8.
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