Britain search and rescue service is ending. Sorry Will you're out of a job.

Well Prince William isn’t the first bloke that got screwed by outsourcing. Nor will he be the last. Outsourcing is destroying jobs everywhere.

I personally think this is a mistake. The skill sets needed for precision helicopter flying are important. The search and rescue program also requires regularly updating equipment and technology. It may be expensive but in the long run it’s necessary to maintain a modern and competitive military.

How often does the military get to use their skills? They train regularly but thats still not the same. The military pilots in search and rescue are out there every day doing the job for real. Testing their skills, equipment, and their technology.

<shrug> Just my two cents. :stuck_out_tongue: But I’d be embarrassed as hell if the US Coastguard outsourced search and rescue to another country.

This isn’t the pit so I can’t really say what I think about this. When they annonced this they had a minister on the Today program (Radio 4 news) who said the very words

“This is not a financial decision”

Privatising search and rescue is not about money? Lying weasel. With apologies to actual weasels.

Great, because privatisation has worked fine for security with Group 4. Oo, that story is ten years old, they’ve cocked up majorly since then too. Gotta go now, someone else find the links please…

The article I linked kept saying how much better technology this contractor was bringing to the job.

My first thought was “Shouldn’t Britain already have that technology or something similar?” A country just can’t risk falling behind with their military. They have to keep up and maintain a modern fighting force. The equipment and skill sets in search and rescue are also vital military assets.

Flying with night vision goggles for example … Imagine how much better a pilot would be that does that regularly in Search and Rescue. Logging hundreds of hours with Night Vision goggles. That skill set is equally important in military missions. I could see that experienced Search and Rescue pilot instructing new pilots or even flying military missions.

Military pilot, facing a challenging night-time flight in horrible weather to rescue two people from the Channel who took an ill-advised boat trip: “It’s my duty, let’s go.”

Private contractor, same situation: “Fuck that, they shouldn’t have gone.”

A contractor is much more likely, I would say, to scrap a mission.

Yeah, I’m not seeing a happy ending to this.

Wait, can’t Prince William resign his commission in 2016 and apply for a job with Bristow?

Or would he have to get an H1B visa? You know, in case he wanted to be eligible for transfer to someplace like Texas.

Anyway, I can’t imagine Bristow turning him down…

I’m not seeing the downside. This sounds entirely reasonable to me.

It does sound like the contractor is offering more modern equipment.

But that’s the problem. A major power like Britain should have updated their helicopters and other tech equipment ten years ago. It’s unthinkable that a private company has better resources than a major world power.

The US is using a lot of big private contractors in military support roles. But AFAIK their equipment or training isn’t superior to our military.

Not really. Private companies are typically much better at business planning than governments are. Canada has been trying to replace our Sea Kings for almost 30 years now. We finally start getting some Sikorsky H-92 Superhawks this year.

Ah, the good old ‘new equipment, new investment myth’ that is perpetuated by successive UK governments.

The system is dead easy, all you do is starve the existing public service of finance because after all, they are doing a good enough job anyway and our priorities are elsewhere.

Then when that industry has fallen behind and is hopelessly uneconomic, the costs of bringing it up to date are so great that it is more convincing to argue that the ‘private sector should take the risk’.

We have seen both Labour and Tory administrations do this, in many industries and across the last three generations.

It usually ends in far greater long terms costs, once you are dependent upon the supplier then a sort of cartel grows up, where all the bidders for the next contract are operating from the same script.

Private Finance Initiative (PFI) Is an absolute classic case in point, the administration got private initiative to build maintain and run hospitals, and in some cases even raised a little money selling off franchises, but money up front only hides the long term cost.

The so called privatisation of our railways is another case, from being an out of date under invested and highly subsidised industry, it is now just slightly out of date, the most expensive railway in Europe to travel on, and receives more public money than it ever did when it was state run.

You can look at our electrical power generation industry, this was sold of on the basis that it would attract greater private investment, however now that our capacity is nearing the end of its life, EDF energy has been approached and has agreed to build two nuclear power stations, but the result will be a levy on every consumer merely for capital costs - explain how that is using private money, because it seems to me that the consumer will bankroll it to underwrite the risk and then spend the next 50 years paying more for the product to fill the pockets of shareholders, instead of reinvesting it.

You can repeat this with much of Public Services, from the Forensics science laboratories, through to Air traffic control, as for the disaster that is Group 4 security, well they really have made a royal screw up with Birmingham prison - hey, but that’s OK since private always performs better than public don’t it?

Poor Will. Tough time to be losing his job, with a baby on the way and all.

It’s a good thing he’s got that Palace to live in. :smiley: :smiley:

I’m a bit surprised Will didn’t say something to grandma. Explain how important Search and Rescue is to the military and country. I know the Royals would never say anything publicly, but the Queen could have made her concerns known behind the scenes.

I’m glad to hear (from this thread) that Canada is updating their helicopters. I guess they’ll continue letting their military handle Search and Rescue?

I don’t see what the big deal is. I used to work for a a private contractor that did ocean surveillance for Australian Customs. We also did the search part of Search and Rescue (we didn’t have drop capability for the rescue.) Then the Australian Marine Safety Authority decided they didn’t like being at the mercy of the Customs aeroplanes and wanted their own Search and Rescue contractors. Now there is a private contractor, separate from the contractor I was working for, providing SAR services. Why can’t the military do it? Because it is not their core job. The private contractor has bases around the country dedicated to maintaining SAR coverage while the military have bases dedicated to serving their military training and deployment needs. There is an overlap of course but you’d be silly thinking that a dedicated SAR outfit would not have advantages over the military. And you know what? If there is a SAR in Australia and one of the Customs aircraft, or a military aircraft happens to be better placed to respond, then those aircraft will provide the first response until such time as the SAR guys can take over, so there is no downside, it’s not like we all sit around twiddling our thumbs while we wait for International Search and Rescue to arrive.

As for the technology, Bristow only has to have enough helicopters suitably equipped to maintain their SAR contract, the military, when they upgrade their equipment, need to have enough helicopters suitably equipped to go to war. That is why Bristow can afford to have better equipment. They don’t need as much of it, and it can be tailored to a very specific task.

I don’t really see it as “outsourcing” either. You still need the same number of local jobs to run the bases and fly the aircraft. You will still have British helicopter pilots flying around saving people, it’s just that they are civilians rather than military. The fact that the company is based in Texas is neither here nor there. Bristow operates in Australia and I don’t think anyone gives a damn where the headquarters of the company is. The company I was working for is headquartered in the UK, but they provide jobs in Australia that a smaller local company might not have the resources to be able to do.

Search and rescue is a joint venture between the Coast Guard and the Canadian Forces. The Coast Guard upgraded their helicopters about 10 years ago to the CH-149 Cormorant.

The Royal Canadian Navy will be getting their Sea King replacements (Sikorsky H-92) beginning this year.

Flight Lieutenant Wales, with his world-famous rescue skills, would be very in-demand and very employable, if he chooses to bring his expertise to Texas or to Canada. But what other employment prospects does he have if he stays in Merrie Auld Englande?


I’m not sure I understand. Will the contractors be responsible for extracting downed RAF pilots from war zones?

No, it is for civilian emergencies. The RAF was providing a civil search and rescue service.

And the Royal Navy too.

I don’t think Bristow is the worst replacement (if there has to be one, which is arguable), they’ve been providing helicopter services to the oil industry in the North Sea and North Atlantic for a long time.

It’s maybe worth mentioning the RNLI. They are a fiercely independent charity, and do a lot of rescue work offshore and on.