Norway’s new Arctic SAR-base will have helicopters in joint operation with Svalbard

A SAR-helicopter operated by the Governor of Svalbard during an exercise in Billefjorden. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Search- and Rescue (SAR) capacities in the European Arctic will be strengthened as the Norwegian Government on Friday announced Tromsø as location for a new civilian operated helicopter base.

Cruise traffic, fishing, petroleum and military activity are all on increase in Norway’s Arctic waters. With long distances, cold climate and polar darkness, the need to strengthen SAR capabilities is long overdue.

A joint supplier and jointly operated base for the [new] helicopters in Tromsø and the [existing] helicopter service for the Governor of Svalbard will give financial and quality benefits, the Government said in its proposal to the Parliament.

To be launched next year, the rescue helicopter base in Tromsø will be the first operated by a private company. Norway’s existing SAR-helicopters in the north, based in Lakselv and Bodø, are part of the Air Force.

“The base in Troms will provide for a substantially strengthened helicopter capacity in the north,” said Monica Mæland, Minister of Justice and Public Security.

The Governor of Svalbard has two helicopters based at the airport in Longyearbyen.

Costs for joint operations of helicopters in Tromsø and Longyearbyen is estimated at 1,86 billion kroner (€181 million) for the period 2022 to 2028.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Indigenous leaders applaud most recent Canadian bank to nix financing Arctic oil and gas, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: The Arctic Railway – Building a future, or destroying a culture?, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Indigenous wildfire knowledge to be key part of new Arctic Council project, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Rosneft tells Putin new Arctic project will produce 30 million tons of oil by 2024, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Arctic refuge oil rights auction faces uncertain response, The Associated Press

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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