Fears that cutting the number of RAF Search And Rescue (SAR) helicopter crews will affect maritime safety are being played down by the Ministry of Defence.

Fears that cutting the number of RAF Search And Rescue (SAR) helicopter crews will affect maritime safety are being played down by the Ministry of Defence. One crew out of every six is to be withdrawn from SAR duties to bolster front line rotary wing operations in Afghanistan.

RAF SAR flights are stationed at Chivenor, Wattisham, Valley, Boulmer, Lossiemouth and Leconfield, usually operating two Sea King helicopters each. The cuts will leave most stations with just one Sea King each, leaving little in the way of back up, but “this will not affect normal capability” said a MoD spokesman.