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Ella and Barney McLachlan with baby Marcus
Lt Cdr ‘Chuck’ Norris RN (Left) with Flt Lt Jon Owen RAF (right) on board Sea King R193
Lt Cdr ‘Chuck’ Norris RN (Left) with Flt Lt Jon Owen RAF (right) on board Sea King R193
Sea King from 771NAS winching

Baby born on SAR helicopter

Published: 03 Oct 2013

A baby boy has been welcomed into the world while his mother was being transferred to hospital onboard a Royal Navy Search and Rescue helicopter in Cornwall. 

Royal Navy Search and Rescue helicopter R193 from 771 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose was called at 1705 on Tuesday 1 October to assist a pregnant woman who had gone into labour on the Scilly Isles. 

Rescue 193, a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter, was travelling with a midwife, Sue Merritt from Helston Birthing Centre, onboard from the local hospital in Helston – which is standard practice for any expectant mothers – provided by the South West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWAST). 

Pilot Flight Lieutenant Jon Owen said: “I gave the crew a ‘10 minutes left to run’ heads up so they could prepare for arrival. However, the midwife shouted back that baby was preparing for his own immediate arrival and that we needed to get ready to deliver in the air”, Jon added: “I simply looked at the other pilot, Lieutenant Paul Smalley, and we continued to fly as mother nature took over”. 

Lieutenant Commander Chuck Norris Royal Navy, the Observer on board said: “It was an exciting evening” he added “We planned to transfer the mum direct to Treliske Hospital in Truro but baby had other ideas.” Chuck has had specific training for a whole range of medical emergencies, this was his first birth as he and Petty Officer Aircrewman Gary Kneesh assisted the midwife, Sue Merritt. 

Chuck finally said: “It’s pretty uncommon to announce to the Coast Guard that you had launched with 7 persons on board, but were preparing to land with 8!” 

Search and Rescue Aircrew are trained for just such events, although it is extremely rare with this believed to be only the second baby born in a Royal Navy helicopter. Baby Marcus Daniel McLachlan (5lb 3oz) was born onboard call-sign R193 at 1924 on 1st Oct 2013 approx 2 miles South East of Truro at 150’. It is unsure at this stage what will be on the birth certificate. 

On arrival Mum, Ella, and baby Marcus along with Dad, Barney, were quickly whisked away to the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske, near Truro. All are said to be doing well after the excitement of the journey. 

Dad, Barney McLachlan, a baker on St Martin’s, said: “We thought we’d have a relaxing day.  Then at the end of the afternoon Ella started feeling some cramps.  We went to see the midwife for an examination and she confirmed Ella was in labour and that she needed to call Culdrose to pick us up” he added: “The Culdrose boys were immense, absolutely phenomenal.  A one point they had to shine a light for Sue.  They were hugely caring and did us brilliantly.  They always deliver and always look after us.”


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