Mills & Reeve advises coastguard agency on £1.6bn search and rescue contract

Mills & Reeve has advised the Maritime & Coastguard Agency on a £1.6bn contract to deliver its 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.

Following a two-year procurement process, the contract for the UK Second-Generation Search and Rescue Aviation programme – known as UKSAR2G – was awarded to Bristow Helicopters Ltd to deliver rotary and fixed wing services as well as aerial surveillance using unmanned air vehicles.

The new 10-year contract will see the UK search and rescue region benefit from both innovation and advances in technology to save more lives, even more quickly. It will combine the existing two separate aviation contracts for both fixed wing aircraft and rotary aircraft.

Mills & Reeve advised on all aspects of the procurement from drafting the contract and KPI mechanism and all procurement documentation.

Jens Henniker Heaton, partner at Mills & Reeve, who led the Mills & Reeve team said: “The procurement was the largest ever implemented by the MCA and would not only impact several government departments but public bodies providing life-saving services.  We are very proud to have supported MCA in navigating the process to deliver an innovative contract and procurement solution that will support delivery of an outstanding search and rescue service for many years to come.”

Damien Oliver, Senior Responsible Owner for UKSAR2G said: “We know there are people alive today because an HM Coastguard helicopter came to their rescue. When looking at the next decade of service and rescue services, the thought of the future people whose lives may well also be saved as a result of this contract was a huge incentive to make sure this will build on that success and improve it still further. I am also delighted that we can continue to support the work of our partners across Government in all the work that they do. This is the excellent result from procurement to deliver a new highly capable and innovative search and rescue aviation service. The new service will build on the success of the current arrangements that have been in place since 2015.

“A programme of this size and complexity relies on expert legal counsel to make sure we always abide by procurement rules, make the competition fair, and ultimately secure value for money for the taxpayer.  Mills & Reeve was recruited at the very start of this programme.  That decision allowed the legal team to inform and shape the procurement strategy and guide the procurement itself to a successful outcome. Mills & Reeve’s support, energy and wisdom was a critical component to the successful outcome of UKSAR2G.”

Mills & Reeve has one of the largest teams working across the government sector with 100 lawyers acting for organisations in key areas including projects, finance and banking, IPR, litigation, real estate, employment and pensions and tax. The team regularly advise government clients including the Ministry of Defence, Department of Health & Social Care, Department for Work and Pensions, Department of Levelling up and the Government Legal department.

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