MOD Accused Of Refusing To Discuss Asbestos Found In Sea King Fleet

The Ministry of Defence has dismissed the claims, saying it has provided "comprehensive information" on the issue.

Sea King helicopters during a farewell flypast in 2018 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

The UK’s largest union has accused the Ministry of Defence of hiding behind "commercial interests", for refusing to discuss asbestos found in the Sea King helicopter fleet.

Unite has also called on the MOD to contact all staff who worked on the aircraft.

The Ministry of Defence, however, has dismissed the claims, with a spokesperson telling Forces News:

"We have been completely transparent throughout this process and have published comprehensive information for those who may have been exposed in the past, detailing the actions they should take."

The MOD also says it is not withholding information.

Asbestos is a material used where resistance to heat or insulation was required and can cause a variety of chest conditions, including cancer, if an individual is exposed to it over a period of time.

The first Sea King entered service in 1969 and was used by the Royal Navy and the RAF until it was retired in September 2018.

By 2006, the MOD says all major contaminated items had been replaced and remaining items were assessed as 'low risk', contained inside components that were not routinely disassembled.

These were replaced with asbestos-free alternatives when routine maintenance allowed.

Last year, a routine maintenance training activity on a Sea King revealed the presence of asbestos inside an exhaust panel seal, and action was taken by the MOD to remove the components from the supply chain.

Unite's Jim Kennedy said he wants Government ministers to "step in and ensure that all the affected workers were properly notified about their contamination".