§ Earl Cathcart
asked Her Majesty' Government:
Whether they will make a statement on the future of the RAF Marine Branch.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces (Lord Trefgarne)
As part of the Government's efforts to produce the most cost-effective deployment of RAF and civilian personnel, the Ministry of Defence has reviewed the requirement to retain the in-service capability currently provided by the RAF Marine Branch, which employs some 430 Service and 80 civilian personnel including support staffs. It has been concluded that while there is a continuing requirement for some of the tasks undertaken by the branch, such as search and rescue helicopter winching training, aircrew sea survival training, the provision of towed targets and the maintenance of safety patrols at RAF ranges, these tasks could be met by either the other services or by commercial craft. It has been decided therefore that the RAF Marine Branch should be disbanded by 1st April 1986, and that RAF Mount Batten should be closed. Those concerned were informed today.
Every effort will be made to employ Marine Branch officers and airmen in other RAF trades, and there may also be scope for some to transfer to the Army or Navy, or to join the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service, Royal Fleet Auxiliary or HM Coastguard. It is hoped to find alternative local employment for civilian staff. For both groups, however, some redundancies may be necessary. Great service has been rendered by the RAF Marine Branch both during the Second World War and since; but in the light of the need to make the most cost-effective use of resources and the changing requirements for marine services, the Government have concluded with regret that the separate RAF Marine Branch organisation can no longer be retained.