This is my 500th post on WordPress and it’s appropriate that this weeks subject should be the sea considering I have lived in coastal towns for the last 15 years. Many of my photographs are taken on the beach or the sand dunes nearby. I’ve been there in driving rain, storm conditions, beautiful sunny days, unusually high tides, sunrise, sunset and I never tire of visiting the coast and the sea. I can visit the same place time and time again, and yet get a different photograph every time.
You may be wondering what a helicopter has to do with the sea but bear with me. The Westland WS-61 Sea King is a British licence-built version of the American Sikorsky S-61 helicopter of the same name, built by Westland Helicopters. There! That’s the connection….it’s called a SEA King. But there’s more to this post.
Here in the United Kingdom, No. 22 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Sea King HAR.3 and HAR.3A from three stations in the southern United Kingdom in a Search and Rescue role. The primary role is military search and rescue, and the provision of rescue for civilian aircraft in distress under the 1948 Chicago Convention. Although established with a primary role of military search and rescue, most of the operational missions are spent in its secondary role, conducting civil search and rescue. This entails the rescue of civilians from the sea (that word again), on mountains, from flooded regions or other locations on land.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity that saves lives at sea around the coasts of Great Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Founded on 4 March 1824 as the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck. the RNLI operates throughout Great Britain and Ireland. Ships in distress, or the public reporting an accident contact the emergency services, who will redirect the call to HM Coastguard or the Irish Coast Guard, as appropriate. The Coastguard co-ordinates all rescues and may call on the RNLI, rescue helicopters or other agencies to take part. Can you see where this is going, yet?
This weekend was the Rhyl Air Show and each year we are given a demonstration of the cooperation between the RNLI and Search and Rescue Helicopters. In the photograph above a crew-member (usually a paramedic) is lowered from the helicopter in preparation for a transfer to a ship at sea.
The helicopter will match speed with the ship and the crew-member will land on the deck. In the photograph above he is just on the back end of the RNLI lifeboat, simulating the transfer.