Chivenors 22 Squadron has been stood down from search and rescue (SAR) operations this afternoon (Sunday). A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency confirmed at 1pm the new SAR base at St Athan went live. The telephone call authorising the RAF to finally stand-down from SAR operations came moments after both of Chivenors Sea King helicopters touched down. The call was received by Wing Commander Sparky Dunlop, Officer Commanding 22 Squadron. Immediately after receiving the call, Wing Commander Dunlop walked a few paces from his office to pass on the news to his staff, taking the opportunity to thank them for their immense contribution and life-saving achievements. Chivenor is the last of the RAFs six SAR bases to hand over to Bristow Helicopters Ltd across the UK.One last flightIt was very much business as usual before the handover - as the Sea King made its last rescue mission at Berrynarbor this morning. Speaking after Chivenors SAR crews had been stood-down, Group Captain Steve Bentley, RAF Search and Rescue Force Commander for the UK said: It is with enormous pride that we can reflect on the RAFs life-saving achievements since rescue operations began in 1941. Thousands of lives have been saved and individuals reunited with their loved ones through rescue missions often flown in the most difficult and extreme conditions. This continuous operational standby commitment has been delivered day-on-day across eight decades through the dedicate, selfless commitment and the determined pursuit of the highest professional standards of our aircrew, engineers and support staff. Todays crews reflect the ethos of the service first established by their fore-bearers in the RAF Directorate of Air\/Sea Rescue. They can take great pride in the contribution they have made in the service of the nation.Saying goodbyeDozens of people turned out along the Tarka Trail as the Sea King came back from its final SAR flight. The crew came over to the fencing and handed out stickers while the crowd gave them three cheers. The Chivenor Sea King will no longer carry out search and rescue operations in North Devon after 57 years saving lives.The service will be run for the Coastguard by Bristow Ltd. The original switchover was due to be on Thursday but the Gazette revealed there had been a delay with the launch of the St Athan base. The new Augusta Westland AW189s helicopters have also been delayed. A spokeswoman for Bristow told the Gazette this week: The contract with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is for Bristow to operate 22 aircraft for the duration of the UK SAR H contract 11 AW189s and 11 S92s. However, delays the company has experienced with the introduction of the AW189 has resulted in the need for a contingency plan that involves the temporary use of alternative aircraft at AW189 bases. The St Athan base will operate two Agusta Westland AW139s.