Page last updated at 17:11 GMT, Saturday, 12 December 2009

Milestone for coastguard aircraft

Portland Coastguard helicopter
The service uses an AgustaWestland 139 leased by CHC Scotia

The Portland Coastguard helicopter, which carries out rescues across the Dorset and Devon coastline, has carried out its 3,000th mission.

It was scrambled this week to search for a missing person at Christchurch, Dorset, who was found safe and well.

The helicopter has been in existence at Portland since 1995.

It was initially based at the Royal Navy's HMS Osprey air station until it closed, before moving to a purpose-built facility known as Osprey Quay.

'Forgotten' team

The facility was built by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) on land leased from the South West Regional Development Agency.

The helicopter that operates at the base is an AgustaWestland 139 leased by CHC Scotia.

Rod Johnson, the MCA's chief coastguard, said: "The passing of this milestone is a major achievement for the MCA.

"Our helicopters and their crews have provided superb service for us over many years and are absolutely integral to the search and rescue infrastructure that exists in this country.

"The service availability record of the aircraft is a testament to the hard working dedication of the ground crews and engineers who are often the 'forgotten' part of the team."

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