The Sikorsky S-61N is a twin-engine medium utility helicopter with a sealed hull for amphibious operations
that can accommodate a basic crew of two and up to 26 passengers. The Sikorsky S-61N is
built by the American manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and based on the military
Sikorsky SH-3A/S61B Sea King series originally developed in the late 1950s for all-weather operations. The Sikorsky S-61B
prototype flew on 11 March 1959 and the type entered service with the U.S. Navy as the SH-3A Sea King in 1962.
The Sikorsky S-61N and its non-amphibious configurated variant Sikorsky S-61L are based on and essentially a commercial equivalent of
the militairy S-61B incorporating a number of changes, including a longer fuselage. The Sikorsky S-61L was flown for the first time on 6 December
1960 and received its FAA Type Approval on 2 November 1961. The S-61L entered production the same year. The Sikorsky S-61N with sealed hull and
stabilising SH-3's floats flew first on 7 August 1962. The S-61N version is optimized for overwater operations, particularly
oil rig support. The initial production S-61s were fitted with two 1250shp General Electric CT58-110-1 turboshafts. Both the S-61L and S-61N were
subsequently updated to Mk II standard with more powerful CT58-140 engines giving better hot and high performance and
other improvements and detail refinements. Production of the commercial Sikorsky S-61s ended in 1979
with over 1300 built. The ICAO Aircraft Type Designator with Wake
Category used to classify aircraft types for the S-61N helicopters is
On 2 november 1979, Sikorsky S-61N c/n 61-822 was registered EI-BHO in Ireland with Irish Helicopters Ltd., Cork.
On 4 May 1989, the 1979-built helicopter was registered G-BPWB in the UK with Bristow Helicopters Ltd. at Redhill
Aerodrome. On 1 February 1991, registration G-BPWB was cancelled, and the helicopter was restored
on the Irish register as EI-BHO with Irish Helicopters Ltd. After being converted for its new task,
Irish Helicopters' Sikorsky S-61N EI-BHO entered service as SAR machine on behalf of IMES (the Irish
Government's Department of the Marine) in 1992. When Irish Helicopters lost the SAR contract to Bond Helicopters,
the Sikorsky was sold in the UK, and registration EI-BHO was cancelled on 14 May 1997. The helicopter
was restored as G-BPWB in the UK with Bristow Helicopters Ltd., Aberdeen, on 16 May 1997.
Bristow stationed Sikorsky G-BPWB at RNAS Portland, Dorset, where the SAR machine was operated and maintained
on behalf of the UKMCA UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency on the HM Coastguard services at RNAS Portland as the
primary SAR helicopter. On 30 June 2007, the SAR unit at RNAS Portland moved from Bristow to CHC Scotia and the
Sikorsky S-61N helicopters were replaced by new AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters. Sikorsky G-BPWB was dry leased
to CHC and being used by part of the CHC "SAR Transition Crew". On 30 June 2008, Sikorsky S-61N Mk.II G-BPWB arrived
at Aberdeen for storage. After undergoing scheduled maintenance in Aberdeen,
Bristow Helicopters directed the aircraft to Den Helder in the Netherlands.
Sikorsky G-BPWB "Coastguard Whiskey Bravo" arrived at Den Helder-De Kooy on 1 January 2010.
At Den Helder, Sikorsky S-61N MkII G-BPWB is used by Bristow in company with Sikorsky S-61N MkII
G-BIMU on their NOGEPA offshore SAR contract,
and replaced Sikorsky S-61N MkII G-BDOC that returned to the UK on 15 December 2009.
Coastguard Rescue' Sikorsky G-BPWB was photographed at Den Helder Airport / Maritiem Vliegkamp De Kooy, on 1 August 2013.
On 1 January 2014, the NOGEPA SAR contract with Bristow came to an end and the Sikorsky helicopter returned to the UK
and was stored at Norwich Airport on 6 February 2014.