A ceremony is to be held at Sumburgh Airport to name new Sikorsky S-92 SAR search and resuce aircraft – Oscar Charlie.
The new helicopter is owned and operated by Bristow Helicopters and the organisatin says it opted for the familiar name, “to honour the legacy of Shetland’s much-loved search and rescue (SAR) helicopter”.
The original Oscar Charlie, a Sikorsky S-61N, was operated by the company on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) from 1985 until 2007.
Oscar Charlie served on several high profile rescue missions, including in 1993 when the tanker Braer went aground. Oscar Charlie played an invaluable role in rescuing crew members and dealing with the disaster.
It also played its part in 1995. Over Christmas and New Year Shetland ground to a halt as snow smothered the isles. In some areas snow drifts were reported as much as 30ft deep. The coastguard flew over 30 missions during six days taking the elderly and very young into hospital because the ambulances could not get on the roads.
A short naming ceremony will be held in the SAR hangar at Sumburgh Airport on Friday, 25th April. It will be attended by representatives from Bristow Helicopters and the MCA as well as local politicians and community representatives.
Those present will include Bristow Helicopter’s director of UK search and rescue, Samantha Willenbacher, Maritime and Coastguard Agency chief executive Sir Alan Massey and isles MP Alistair Carmichael.
Bristow Helicopters again took over the SAR helicopter operations from Sumburgh Airport in June last year, replacing previous provider CHC. The move marked the start of the UK Gap SAR contract for Northern Scotland which sees Bristow Helicopters delivering the SAR helicopter service from Sumburgh and Stornoway.
When Bristow took over, two new Sikorsky S-92 helicopters were brought in to be stationed at Sumburgh airport, equipped with the latest search and rescue kit including night vision goggle technology, forward-looking infrared and sophisticated communications equipment.
Managing director of Bristow Helicopters, Mike Imlach, said at the time: “We are honoured to once again be delivering the search and rescue helicopter service from Sumburgh.”
Bristow Helicopters Ltd has served the offshore oil transport industry in the UK for nearly 60 years. The company is also the largest provider of helicopter services to the offshore energy industry in Australia and Nigeria, where it has operated for over 50 years.