The Stornoway based Coastguard Helicopter became operational on 12th May 1987. Although the Stornaway Coastguard Helicopter’s normal operating area was the West of Scotland and Northern Ireland it was also deployed for incidents in the Orkneys, the Shetlands Isles, and the Clyde. From early 1988 the helicopter provided the main the main air ambulance service for the Western Isles.
The SAR helicopter contract started on 12 May 1987 using S-61N G-BBVA. This was an interim solution until G-BDII arrived in September. India India was a more capable helicopter, fitted with a FLIR turret and a long-range fuel tank. Unfortunately, it was forced to ditch in the sea on 17 October 1988 and so G-BIMU (Mike Uniform) took over as the assigned helicopter. G-BIMU was replaced by a new S-92 helicopter (supplied by CHC Helicopters) in mid 2007. Short-term maintenance cover was provided by S-61Ns G-BBVA and G-BBHL. By September 2001, G-BBHL was operating as a regular back-up rescue helicopter (from 1:30 pm each day) whenever G-BIMU was away from base on another mission. Thus G-BIMU provided 24-hour all-weather SAR, supplemented by G-BBHL for 12-hrs each day.
In April 1997 the contract with Bristow Helicopters Ltd was renewed for the third time, and extended for a further five years on 1 July 2002 (expiring 30 June 2007). The 2000th SAR mission was flown on 5 July 2002. Under what became known as the UK Gap SAR Contract, CHC Helicopters took over the service on 30 June 2007, with the S-61Ns being replaced by much more modern Sikorsky S-92s.
In 2012, Bristow Helicopters was awarded the UK Gap SAR contract for Northern Scotland. Under this contract Bristow supplied two new Sikorsky S-92s to Stornoway, with operations commencing on 1 July 2013. In 2017 the service will be merged with the the nationwide UK SAR contract awarded to Bristow Helicopters in 2013.
|Sikorsky S-61N Mk II||1||12 May 1987 – Sept 1987||G-BBVA|
|Sikorsky S-61N Mk II||1||24 Sept 1987 – 17 Oct 1988||G-BDII, w/o after ditching|
|Sikorsky S-61N Mk II||1||Oct 1988 – 30 June 2007||G-BIMU “Stac Pollaidh”|
|Sikorsky S-61N Mk II||1||19?? – 30 June 2007||G-BBHL (reserve)|
|Sikorsky S-92||1||1 July 2007 – Jun 2013||G-CGMU|
|Sikorsky S-92||1||1 Oct 2007 – Jun 2013||G-SARB|
|Sikorsky S-92||2||1 Jul 2013 – Present|
|Stornoway Airport, Outer Hebrides||May 1987 – Present|
To be added.