Part two: April to June
Plans to privatise UK helicopter search and rescue (SAR) from 2012 and hand it over to a consortium, including the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), were revealed.
The consortium, which, as well as RBS, included Thales UK, American Sikorsky helicopters and Canadian CHC helicopters, offered to replace the aged Westland Sea Kings with the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, which is 30 per cent quicker and equipped with forward-looking infrared sensors and night-vision goggles.
Currently the MOD and the MCA provide a 24-hour helicopter SAR service from 12 UK bases, using RAF and Royal Navy Sea King helicopters (pictured above).
But the service will pass to Soteria through a single contract, that was expected to result in a 25-year private finance initiative agreement worth around £6 billion.
Carl Taylor, a spokesman for the consortium, said: ‘I know it sounds strange after what’s happened to RBS (the government’s £20 billion bailout), but this is a different part of the bank and one which has expertise in private financial initiatives, which we are using.’
The 2011 London Boat Show’s new entrance was revealed, as part of the £165 million extension to the south hall, where fully rigged yachts will be displayed for the first time.
The show, which runs from January 7-16 at ExCeL in Docklands, will also have a new Docklands Light Railway station, Prince Regent, to drop visitors at the new entrance.
Organisers, National Boat Shows (NBS), will also introduce a watersports pool to demonstrate windsurfing and sailing skills. Second-hand boats will be showcased at the show for the first time.
Andy Williams, managing director of NBS, said: ‘Around 3.7 million people in the UK have an interest in sailing or watersports, yet for the London and Southampton boat shows visitor figures have in recent years been around the 100,000 mark.’
A survey by NBS revealed that visitors thought the show was ‘too trade-focused’ and were more interested in second-hand boats than new ones.
Olympic security chiefs were considering installing anti-terrorist underwater surveillance sonar to protect Portland Harbour, site of the 2012 sailing events.
The state-of-the-art underwater sonar, called Sentinel, sits on the seabed on a tripod, tracking unwelcome intruders and can be integrated with CCTV and radar.
The system, manufactured in Yateley, Hampshire, is already used by the US Navy in major ports and could also be used to protect UK naval sites, such as Portsmouth and Plymouth.
An industry source told Yachting Monthly that the system could change how harbours are protected as it is recognised that underwater security is a neglected area.
Placed in Portland’s three harbour entrances, the sonar could be used to strengthen Dorset Chief Constable Martin Baker’s £1milion ‘ring of steel’ around Portland Harbour. He said: ‘We have a harbour into which you could fit the Olympic stadium many times over. It’s the sheer scale of the operation which is challenging.’