Comments have been made about rescues and costs and with many arguments onn several topics. So here is an interesting story as to the cost of a Life raft that is used by our RNZAF crews during SAR's at sea.
I would like to acknowledge that this story was written by Grant Carr, editor of AirForce News, RNZAF. I hope he doesn't mind me copying it.
In the Life Raft Bay at Base Ohakea, a team of specialists look after the AirForces life saving equipment
and package the 10 seater liferafts that plummet from aircraft to boats in distress
Whenever CPL Dan Peters and his three person team hear of another No.5 Squadron Search and Rescue
, they wonder if their teams SRA has saved lives.
The Air Forces No.5 Squadron Parachute drops SRAs to seafarers or downed Aircraft when the vessel is in danger
of sinking and lacks a suitable life-raft.
Peter's and his team assemble the 10 seater life-rafts, each with a CO2-filled inflation cylinder and two attached supply containers.
Wrapping the hundreds of metres of rope
that tether the containers is the most time consuming job, before a further two weeks of fiddly, exacting work
before the final product is ready to be shipped back to No.5 Sqaudron.
skills-splicing to folding and wrapping- are essential but ultimately people's lives depend on the cylinders opening and inflating in exactly the correct sequence. Other specialists help: suppliers, chippies, avionics, armourers, medical
Each SRA starts out as a basic inflatable
life raft unit supplied by RFD. After minor modifications for Orion/RNZAF specifications, an extensive checklist ensures all components are working.
The team start building the containers and their trigger mechanisms. The SRA unit consists of three containers ropped together by hundreds of meters of coiled bouyant rope. The large, central container holds the MS10 Life Raft and the pressurised gas filled cylinder. After the main container deploys it's drogue
parachute and hits the water
vertically, an automatic firing mechanism starts inflating the life raft with the Co2. The gas pressure causes the containers expansion bolts to shear and allows the raft to inflate.
The two other containers, roped to the MS10 by the bouyant rope contain water
, first aid, barley sugars, desalting kit, a Personal locator beacon and playing cards.
The cost of one of these SRA sets is approxamatley NZ$90,000, not including labour costs or the cost of deploying the Orion and it's crew.
The Airforce would be crazy to deploy one of these when not needed, so an alternative is the MADD pack( Minimum Aid Delivery
Device). Put together at the Ohakea based Arial Delivery
section, the MADD costs NZ$30.00 and can carry from 15 to 50lbs of equipment
, eg, radio
, water, medicine. The packs are filled by the No.5 Squadron personnel depending on the needs of the search and rescue
. Often several MADD packs are dropped. For example, when a worker mangled his hand in a recent fish
factory ship accident
, the MADDs contained an oxygen tank and other life saving medical
Each SRA can only be used once, then has to be discarded. No.5 Squadron retains up to 10 SRAs, ready for rescue in the South Pacific
patch. Each has a shelf life of 12months and then must be repacked and checked at the life raft bay before being returned to storage
I hope this was interesting. I must say, it gave me a shock as to the cost of the SRA's and that i canonly be used the one time.