Department of Transport amends Search and Rescue tender to cover four existing bases

Previously, only three tenders had been published, prompting fears the base in Waterford could be lost.
Department of Transport amends Search and Rescue tender to cover four existing bases

Muireann Duffy

The Department of Transport has confirmed it will amend a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) relating to the procurement process for a new Coast Guard aviation service.

The original PQQ was published on December 20th, referencing "a minimum" of three helicopter bases, however, there are currently four bases around the country - Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford.

The tender documentation states bidders can propose more than the minimum number of bases, with the final number of bases and their locations not specified. The documents also noted that a "suitable configuration of bases" must be proposed by those seeking the €800 million tender.

The mention of just three bases prompted unease in the southeast, with locals and elected representatives fearing the Waterford base would be lost following an attempt in 2010 to downgrade the 24-hour search and rescue service to a 12-hour, daylight-only service.

TDs and Senators from areas covered by the Waterford base met last week to discuss the matter, deciding to seek a meeting with the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan.

The department has since confirmed the PQQ "will be amended to specify the number and location of Search and Rescue (SAR) bases to reflect the existing configuration".

"The continuation of the current base configuration will reinforce the Coast Guard’s capability to meet its obligations in the National SAR Plan, the National Oil/ HNS Contingency Plan, and its capacity to support other State agencies, in particular inland SAR support to An Garda Síochána and provision of Air Ambulance services to HSE, including day and night support to the island communities," a statement from the department adds.

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