Tromsø will host a new Norwegian rescue helicopter base

The base, to be operated privately starting next year, will work in coordination with rescue helicopters in Svalbard.


A search-and-rescue helicopter operated by the Governor of Svalbard during an exercise in Billefjorden. (Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)

Norway plans to add more search-and-rescue capability in the Arctic next year, with a helicopter based in Tromsø.

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 coordinate with search-and-rescue operators in Svalbard, where the the Governor of Svalbard 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.

Elsewhere in the Arctic, Norway also has search-and-rescue helicopters based in Lakselv and Bodø, which are part of the Air Force.

“The base in Troms 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 2022 to 2028.