Thousands of Military Sea King helicopter staff have been warned that they may have been exposed to Asbestos.
UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) secretly issued a warning and contacted foreign governments, which were sold the ex-British Sea King helicopters. The helicopter has been in service since 1969 so it is possible that thousands of engineers have been exposed to Asbestos.
Sea Kings have been in service around the world for the British Navy as well as foreign governments such as Australia, India and Germany. Price William has also flown the Sea King in a recent search-and-rescue capacity.
The Mail on Sunday reports that service personnel were instructed to not share the information without permission which will no doubt raise eyebrows among politicians and health and safety experts.
But the Ministry of Defence states that it is now making every effort to remove the asbestos containing materials from the helicopters including all parts kept in storage. However, the Mail on Sunday confirmed that defence chiefs pledged to remove the asbestos containing products by 2005.
The Ministry of Defence has not confirmed the exact location of the Asbestos with the Sea King Helicopter. However, Asbestos has been used previously in Military helicopters and plane engines as gaskets and pipe lagging.
The Asbestos is heat, acid and alkaline resistant making it an ideal material for engine parts. Asbestos is also very cheap to produce and performs better in harsh environments than alternative materials.
Todays announcement will raise questions of compensation for those who have worked on the Sea King and contracted Asbestos related diseases.
The Ministry of Defence stated "Any remaining items in service Sea Kings suspected to contain Asbestos are being removed urgently and we are contacting those who may have been exposed in the past, detailing the actions they should take."
We have no doubt that potential claimants will come forward.