CoastGuardChopperThe Air and Sea Rescue base at Waterford Airport, which services a 200-nautical mile area covering the south-east and south, will be retained according to Waterford Airport Chief Executive Graham Doyle.
Rumours persist that CHC Helicopter Corporation, which operates the contracts for the four Coast Guard bases in the State, may be set to reduce its service in the Republic.
But Mr Doyle remains confident that the service will be retained at Waterford.
“There’s been a procurement process ongoing over the past nine months or so around the overall contract for Ireland, and there had been questions in that as to whether all four existing Coast Guard bases would be retained,” he said.
“But I’m quite positive that they will (be retained). I find it unthinkable that (CHC) wouldn’t, quite frankly and I firmly believe that the Coast Guard service will be retained in Waterford.”
Graham Doyle added: “I think it’s important to say that the Coast Guard base in Waterford is the highest quality base in the country, without doubt. It’s a purpose-built facility. And I know when CHC are showcasing what they do in Ireland, they do so in Waterford.”
Mr Doyle stated that no specific proposal to close the facility had been made at any level.
“I think the way that the procurement was worded left certain options open but there’s no specific proposal to close the Waterford base down.”
Have Mr Doyle and his colleagues been lobbying for the base’s retention?
“The situation regarding the Coast Guard hasn’t filtered out into the wider community; that fear about its future, I mean. But I would expect a reaction at this point to be very strong if any such proposal came about.”
He added: “And if any such proposal was to come about, we certainly would react to it, but I don’t expect us to have anything to react to, as such.”
Over 40 successful rescues were carried out by the Coast Guard Helicopter during 2009, illustrating the value and importance of the service it provides from its Waterford base.