WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, sent a letter to Ambassador Kåre R. Aas of Norway yesterday to urge the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MOJ) to consider using Sikorsky as the manufacturer for its All Weather Search and Rescue Helicopters in its NAWSARH procurement. Sikorsky’s S-92 helicopter was one of the initial models being considered for the MOJ’s NAWSARH competition, but Sikorsky was recently eliminated from the competition despite an excellent record of making dependable and high quality helicopters.
In his letter, Murphy hailed Sikorsky’s leadership in the defense manufacturing industry, its willingness to negotiate a contract with MOJ that provides reduced risk and cost to the agency, and the company’s strength and ability to produce a quality, reliable product that would meet the MOJ’s needs.
“Norway’s de-selection of Sikorsky is disappointing, given the widespread presence and reliable performance of the S-92 already being used in the country,” said Murphy. “In light of the S-92’s stellar performance and our strong ties as allies, I respectfully request you look into this de-selection. I am confident the well-proven, rugged, and highly reliable S-92 helicopter, with its consistently high dispatch availability rates, is the right aircraft for Norway’s demanding and critically important search and rescue operations.”
This long-term contract would potentially allow Sikorsky to manufacture as many as 21 new helicopters and would support thousands of Sikorsky’s manufacturing employees in Connecticut and the surrounding region.
The full text of the letter is below:
October 29, 2013
The Honorable Kåre R. Aas
Royal Norwegian Embassy
2720 34th Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
Dear Ambassador Aas,
Allow me to congratulate you on your recent appointment as Ambassador to the United States, and to personally welcome you to Washington. I very much look forward to meeting you in the near future, and I hope that your transition to our nation’s capital has gone smoothly.
As Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, I take great interest in transatlantic issues, including procurements and other business matters involving U.S. companies and our European friends. Of particular interest is a recent Norwegian acquisition: the Ministry of Justice and Public Security’s (MOJ) competition to replace its All Weather Search and Rescue Helicopters, the so called NAWSARH procurement. One of the original bidders for the contract, Sikorsky Aircraft, is headquartered in my home state of Connecticut. Widely known for its technological innovation and its strong lineup of military and commercial rotorcraft products, Sikorsky helicopters are found in government and private sector fleets throughout the world. Sikorsky bid an S-92 helicopter configured specifically for Search and Rescue (SAR), an aircraft very similar to the SAR aircraft recently selected by the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom to fulfill their national SAR requirements.
I understand the Norwegian MOJ recently selected two of Sikorsky’s competitors with which to engage in final negotiation on NAWSARH. Norway’s de-selection of Sikorsky is disappointing, given the widespread presence and reliable performance of the S-92 in Norway's offshore oil sector—a record familiar to Norway's MOJ and other Norwegian officials. In light of the S-92’s stellar performance and our strong ties as allies, I respectfully request you look into this de-selection. Now is a particularly good moment to revisit the NAWSARH competition, given your country’s recent change of government. Should the MOJ engage with Sikorsky further, I believe it would find the company is:
- Willing to negotiate a contract that is executable and provides for reduced risk and cost to MOJ, while allowing for reasonable risk and profits for the contractor; and
- Committed to deliver a robust and reliable product per the contract and on schedule (in this regard, it is worth noting that the first baseline S-92 destined for the UK SAR contract has already been delivered and is now undergoing SAR customization).
I am confident the well-proven, rugged, and highly reliable S-92 helicopter, with its consistently high dispatch availability rates, is the right aircraft for Norway’s demanding and critically important search and rescue operations. Moreover, if the MOJ were to select the S-92, the Norwegian government could leverage the supply/support infrastructure and training aids already in place in Norway that support the 32 S-92’s operating daily on the Norwegian shelf.
As you begin your assignment in Washington, I fully appreciate that you likely have many issues on your agenda. I am hopeful that you will consider adding this issue as a priority. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further, and look forward to hearing back from you and collaborating on issues of mutual interest in the future.
With kind regards,
CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY
United States Senator