Lee-on-Solent Facility
H.M. Coastguard


Key Facts

Short Name:
Nickname: unknown
Main Role: Search and Rescue
Secondary Role: -
First Formed: 1988
Parent Unit: HMCG HQ
Current Status: Active


The first Lee-on-Solent based Coastguard Helicopter became operational on 15th May 1988. The Helicopter’s normal operating area stretched from Beachy Head in East Sussex to St Albans’s head in Dorset, including Poole Harbour during the day. At night, this area was extended to include Start Point in Devon, a coastline of some 170 miles in length. This area extended to the mid-point of the English Channel. Occasionally the helicopter was tasked to incidents outside this area due to its FLIR capability. Since it was established in 1988 Lee-on-Solent has proved to be the busiest Maritime Search and Rescue helicopter unit in the United Kingdom.

Under a unique agreement with the Hampshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the latter provides an paramedic crew for medical emergencies at sea. Hampshire Ambulance despatches a paramedic ambulance from their nearby Gosport base and the ambulance crew board the Coastguard helicopter at Lee-on-Solent, together with their paramedic kit and a portable radio which transmits on ambulance frequencies.

The S-61Ns were operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd under a contract that expired on 30 June 2007. They were replaced by two new AW139 machines supplied by CHC Helicopters.

In March 2006 the MCA brought the Lee-on-Solent airfield site from Defence Estates, securing it’s future. On 1 December 2006 construction commenced of a new hangar to house Coastguard helicopters. It’s first occupants were the new AW139s. The Hampshire Police helicopter also operates from a location very close-by.

Under the UK SAR contract awarded in 2013, Bristow Helicopters took over operation of the service from CHC in 2015. The AW139s were replaced by newer Bristow-owned examples. These AW139s are in turn due to be replaced by new AW189 machines in April 2017.

Subordinate Units



Type Qty Service Example Serials
Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 15 May 1988 – 1989 G-BCLC
Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 1989 – late 2007 G-BDIJ “Crathes”
Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 19?? – June 2008 G-BBVA (Reserve)
Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 Jan 2008 – June 2008 G-BIMU (Primary)
AgustaWestland AW139 1 Feb 2008 – Present G-CGIJ
AgustaWestland AW139 1 Mar 2008 – Present G-SARD
AgustaWestland AW189 2 Apr 2017+  

Unit Markings



Main Bases

Base Duration
Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire May 1988 – present


S-61N G-BDIJ at Lee-on-Solent. (photo, Chris Jones)
S-61N G-BIMU at Lee-on-Solent in early
2008. (photo, Mark Adams)

More Information


  • To be added.

Other Sources

To be added.

One thought on “Lee-on-Solent Facility
H.M. Coastguard

  1. Thanks for air lifting me from St Mary’s on 31st December you prevented a very bad situation from getting worse I don’t remember much about the flight but it was quick.

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