The added capacity comes as cruise ship traffic, fishing, petroleum and military activity are all on increase in Norway’s Arctic waters, even as long distances, a cold climate and polar darkness can complicate rescue efforts in the region. The new rescue helicopter base in Tromsø will be the first operated by a private company, and will co-ordinate with SAR operators in Svalbard, where the Governor has two helicopters based at the airport in Longyearbyen.
A joint supplier and jointly operated base for the helicopters in Tromsø and the helicopter service for the Governor of Svalbard will give financial and quality benefits, Norway’s government said in its proposal to Stortinget, the country’s parliament.
Norway also has Air Force SAR helicopters
Norway also has SAR helicopters based in Lakselv and Bodø, which are part of the Air Force.
“The base in Tromso will provide for a substantially strengthened helicopter capacity in the north,” said Monica Mæland, Minister of Justice and Public Security.
Costs for joint operations of helicopters in Tromsø and Longyearbyen is estimated at 1.86 billion kroner (€181 million) for the period between 2022 to 2028.