Uproar over bid to axe Search and Rescue at HMS Daedalus in 1986

A public outcry greeted news that the government was thinking of axing the Search and Rescue unit at HMS Daedalus, Lee-on-the-Solent, to save money.

Sunday, 16th February 2020, 12:00 am
The Search and Rescue Unit and their helicopters were under threat.
The Search and Rescue Unit and their helicopters were under threat.

If the axe fell, lives could have been lost as the Solent – one of the busiest waterways in the world – would have been left without helicopter cover.

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The unpopular plans were a sore point with south coast sailors and the men who watched out for them.

Experienced seafarer Rear-Admiral Charles Williams – the Whitbread Round The World Race organiser – was horrified at the prospect. He said: ‘I think economy at the expense of people’s lives is a pretty poor show. The government has somehow got to afford to pay up in the way it does for other emergency services,’ said Rear-Adm Williams, who retired to Lee when he left the Royal Navy.

Former Isle of Wight pilot Roger Haldenby said he ‘owed his life’ to the Search and Rescue unit at Daedalus after he crashed his Cessna into the icy waters of the Solent. ‘I would hate to see the day when they were no longer there,’ said Mr Haldenby.