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SAR - Fastnet 1979 - 40 years

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SAR - Fastnet 1979 - 40 years

Old 20th Aug 2019, 18:39
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SAR - Fastnet 1979 - 40 years

https://www.forces.net/news/fastnet-...speak-40-years

A landmark event in a number of ways.

My understanding is that it triggered the start of the integration of the UK's SAR resources by bringing RN SAR helicopters under ARCC control. Maybe a few Fastnet 79 ppruners around who can tell us more?
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Old 20th Aug 2019, 21:41
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Join Date: Sep 2004
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[left]Thanks for the heads-up to the interviews jimf671. Last week was the first, since moving to Australia 17 years ago, that I felt I should have been in Blighty. It was particularly wonderful to see "my" old cab flying at Historic Helicopters on the 14th, and great to see Albie and Keith looking so fit and well in this interview. I entirely resonated with Albie's comment on what haunted him that day.
Did I fly over somebody and fail to see them?.
With regard to ...
My understanding is that it triggered the start of the integration of the UK's SAR resources by bringing RN SAR helicopters under ARCC control.
You may well be right there but I don't have a valid perspective on that. What really stood out was the co-operation between everybody involved and "integration" may well have been the end result. Remember that it was before the days of GPS so the nav in the Wessex was performed by a crewman on a knee chart and the Seakings only had a radar that was next to useless in those sea states. Radios were similarly useless at that distance and height. We were therefore dividing up tasks democratically, on the radios between us. It was a great relief when a Nimrod appeared, (I half think it came from Lossie rather than St Mawgan) and could begin taking charge from the position of a valid overview. I only saw her once, looming through the rain at 400', and for once I was glad to see the crabs arrive!

I was highly choked on the day they eventually decommissioned 771 Squadron, but over time I could see the benefits of dedicated Coastguard helicopters with FLIR and all the other toys that replaced our second-line Navy role. There were many changes made to yacht design as a result of Fastnet, but perhaps the biggest reminder that day was that the sea is a terribly unforgiving mistress.

A big hi to any pruners who were out that day. It may be 40 years ago (is that even possible?) but I expect, like me, that every minute of it remains with you in technicolour detail. May I recommend Nick Ward's excellent book "Left for Dead". He was the last person to be picked up alive. His story is harrowing, but it's a good reality check for all of us who have the luxury of a cockpit suspended from rotors.
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Old 20th Aug 2019, 22:24
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I flew into Cork that evening and the next morning. My memory of the evening flight was the rate at which the QNH was falling, you seemed to be resetting the subscale at almost minute intervals. The next morning the number of dismasted or upturned hulls visible was remarkable.
I remember vividly talking to one skipper who described waves "breaking green above our 40 foot masthead"
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Old 20th Aug 2019, 22:26
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Join Date: Jan 2012
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My understanding is that it triggered the start of the integration of the UK's SAR resources by bringing RN SAR helicopters under ARCC control. Maybe a few Fastnet 79 ppruners around who can tell us more?
PM'd you Jim
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