The BBC has announced that Bristow Helicopters are to take back the two Scottish bases of the British SAR service from 2013 to 2017 - the "GAP SAR" contract as it has been known. CHC are understood to retain the southern bases at Lee-on-Solent and Portland for the same period of time - The BBC story says that Bristow have won the Scottish bases, and industry sources are pointing to CHC retaining the southern two.
Over the last few years huge efforts have been put in to a new nationwide SAR contract with the UK Government handing over all SAR work to a commercial contractor for a 25 year period, three quarters of the work being taken from the military. One particular consortium known as Soteria (based around operator CHC) was chosen as the "preferred bidder" but the whole thing fell apart when irregularities emerged and various statements were issued including this one from February 2011 concerning police involvement in the investigation of the way Soteria conducted their bid.
Having already reached the point of one "preferred bidder", but with that bidder "named and shamed", the Government had no option but to open the whole competition back up again with a new start date for the 25 year contract - set at 2017. This created the interim situation referred to above - "GAP SAR
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