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Boat Show helps celebrate 60th anniversary of Royal Navy SAR

Published: 09 Jan 2013

The Royal Navy’s search and rescue fliers will give visitors at Britain’s biggest boat show a taste of what they do – kick-starting their 60th anniversary year. Two days of demonstrations are planned by 771 Naval Air Squadron at the London Boat Show, where the fliers will be joined by Royal Marines in Offshore Raiding Craft, the Band of HM Royal Marines and a permanent Royal Navy presentation stand.

The Royal Navy’s helicopter heroes will kick-start a year of events celebrating six decades of lifesaving at Britain’s biggest boat show this weekend. Two days of demonstrations from 771 Naval Air Squadron at the London Boat Show will raise the curtain on Search and Rescue 60.

The distinctive red and grey Sea King will fly into London’s docklands at 2pm on Saturday for a rescue demonstration in the waters outside the ExCeL Centre – and will be back again at 11.30am on Sunday to do the same. The helicopter’s dramatic entrance is just one element of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines input to the boat show, which opens at 10am on Saturday to stirring nautical tunes from the Band of HM Royal Marines.

Not to be outdone, their green bereted brethren will be on the water as Royal Marines Commandos in ORC offshore raiding craft – which helped shield the Olympic games last summer – demonstrate the fast boats’ agility; on dry land, the marines will be on hand to talk about the Senior Service’s amphibious operations.

Throughout the show, the Royal Navy has a presentation stand (C180) where visitors can learn about the wider role of the Senior Service and search and rescue crews will also be on hand to explain the work of the Fleet Air Arm’s two SAR units: 771, based at Culdrose in south-west Cornwall, and HMS Gannet at Prestwick in Scotland (which is traditionally the busiest helicopter rescue unit in the country).

In addition there will also be the opportunity to join the audience at a daily presentation at the ‘Knowledge Box’ next to the RN stand, where there’ll be an interactive talk exploring the role of search and rescue, including the chance for visitors to get their hands on some of the key equipment used during rescues.

The Royal Navy traces its search and rescue mission back to January 31 1953 when a dozen Dragonfly helicopters from 705 Naval Air Squadron in Gosport responded to pleas for help in East Anglia and the Netherlands after the ‘great flood’.

In the course of seven hours’ flying, more than 840 people were rescued; one single pilot accounted for 111 souls saved, while another lifted 102 people to safety.

Since then, the bravery and skill of Fleet Air Arm crews has been demonstrated in incidents at sea large and small – the Fastnet race tragedy of 1979, the Penlee lifeboat disaster in 1981, the Piper Alpha oil rig explosion in 1988, the stricken ferry MV Riverdance in the January storms off Blackpool in 2008.

The Royal Navy is also using the boat show to highlight its key anniversary of 2013: 70 years since victory in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Major events will take place in London, Londonderry, and finally Liverpool in May – the 70th anniversary of what the U-boats called ‘Black May’, when the tide against German submarines was irrevocably turned.

The struggle in the Atlantic was waged from the very first day of World War 2 to the last; it cost the lives of more than 70,000 sailors of all nations with over 5,000 shops and cargoes sunk.

The boat show is open daily from 10am and runs until Sunday January 20. For more details visit the London Boat Show official website


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