HM Coastguard’s first unmanned search and rescue missions are being undertaken in Wales to support search and rescue response in both maritime and in the mountains.
It’s an operational evaluation and will potentially have the benefits of showing operations staff for HM Coastguard live situations and incidents to provide the best response.
Operated by Bristow, provider of the HM Coastguard Search and Rescue Helicopter Service, the unmanned aerial vehicles will launch from Caernarfon in Wales providing supporting safety patrols across beaches from Conwy Bay to Llandudno and across Snowdonia.
“Search and rescue is about saving lives. Every second counts and every minute saved can prove the difference between life and death” says Director of Her Majesty’s Coastguard, Claire Hughes. “This kind of technology has a big part to play in those moments alongside our helicopters, coastguard rescue teams and our partners from the RNLI to independent lifeboats and hovercraft.”
Bristow is flying two Schiebel CAMCOPTER® S-100 systems, following a rigorous, three-month test programme which began in March this year. Initially, the unmanned aircraft will operate only at weekends for HM Coastguard with Bristow carrying on its routine testing during the week.
Maritime Minister, Kelly Tolhurst says: “We will stop at nothing to keep people safe on our shores and in our seas, exploring new and innovative ways to further bring search and rescue into the 21st century. Drones have the potential to help our coastguard teams save even more lives so I’m excited we’re pioneering these advances in the UK.”