After more than two decades in service the Portland Coastguard search and rescue helicopter will today - Friday 30th June 2017 - cease operations, despite more than 100,000 people signing a petition to try to keep it open.
The Portland SAR helicopter base has performed rescues across the South West since 1995. The closure has come about because the MCA is being restructured, with a fleet of search and rescue helicopters operating from 10 bases.
The South Dorset MP Richard Drax had also spoken out against the closure of the base, "I watch their departure still very much with regret.”
There is little good news because Heli Operations (a company supplying trained helicopter personnel to companies worldwide) will be taking over the the Portland helicopter base site at Osprey Quay from tomorrow, 1st July 2017. This should mean that the base can provide a refuelling facility for the search and rescue helicopter.
The nearest SAR will now be located at the new £20m-helicopter base at Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire. The MCA has reported this is 15 minutes flying time from Portland.
The Portland area will also have back-up from helicopters in Cornwall and South Wales.