Locating the right contract for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency

Mills & Reeve is acting for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) on the procurement of the UK second-generation search and rescue aviation programme.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), an executive agency of the Department for Transport with headquarters in Southampton, provides the UK’s maritime and coastal search and rescue emergency coordination and response service.

The MCA is procuring the UK second-generation search and rescue aviation programme (UKSAR2G) to replace its existing contracts which are due to expire 2024 - 2026. The UKSAR2G programme will enable Her Majesty's Coastguard to fulfil its international search and rescue obligations, rescue people in distress and monitor polluting, illegal or anti-competitive activity.

Mills & Reeve advised on all aspects of UKSAR2G to date including drafting of the contract and KPI mechanism and all procurement documentation. The MCA has now completed the initial selection stage and has issued the Invitation to Tender to shortlisted bidders. It is expected that the contract, worth an estimated £2.2 billion will be awarded in late summer 2022 following negotiations.

Raith Pickup, a partner from Mills & Reeve who lead the team alongside fellow partner Jens Henniker Heaton, said: “This is one of the largest procurements we have worked on in our Government sector and its effects will be felt across a number of Government Departments and public bodies that this contract will support, including the police searching for missing people and the NHS when patients need to be transported quickly.”

Jens Henniker Heaton, said “Having been appointed following a stringent competition for the legal work on this innovative project, we have guided MCA throughout and achieved a major milestone by issuing the detailed procurement documents to shortlisted bidders.”

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport (Robert Courts) said in his statement to Parliament: “the scale of this collaboration is seldom seen in Government procurement. The MCA should be commended for thinking beyond requirements to maximise the value form its investment in aviation services.”

Damien Oliver, Senior Responsible Owner for UKSAR2G: “Our extensive data have been used to develop the tools that will enable bidders for UKSAR2G to include cutting-edge, greener technology that will continue to meet the complex demands of Her Majesty’s Coastguard long into the future…This is a really exciting programme that will continue to protect the public using state-of the-art aviation technology. The contract will look for innovation from our suppliers including drone technology and we want suppliers who use innovation to drive efficiencies.

The Mills & Reeve team has harnessed its leading experience of advising Government to help MCA get the best out of this ground-breaking competitive process.”

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