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News & Media

  • Search for ‘victims’ in challenging Sydney & Illawarra marine rescue test
  • September 11, 2015

Photo:  Cottage Point 30, MRNSW’s newest fast response rescue vessel

Marine Rescue specialists from Sydney and the Illawarra will take to the water off the Sydney coastline to search for “victims” missing at sea as part of a major capability exercise this Sunday, September 13.

The operation will be the culmination of a two-day regional Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) designed to test agencies’ marine search and rescue practices and coordination.

Up to 70 Marine Rescue NSW volunteers from the Hawkesbury, Terrey Hills, Cottage Point, Broken Bay, Middle Harbour, Port Jackson, Botany Port Hacking, Port Kembla and Shellharbour units will be among the 90 specialists taking part in two days of theoretical and practical training sessions.

The event will also involve personnel from the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command, Lifesaver Helicopter and Surf Life Saving NSW.

Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Dean Storey said the exercise was scheduled ahead of the official start of the summer boating season in October.

“SAREX operations are staged along the coastline each year as part our ongoing professional training program to hone marine rescue search and rescue skills and build agency interoperability,” he said.

“Ensuring our volunteers are well equipped and trained for their roles is integral to our mission to save lives on the water.

“Marine Rescue NSW units have used the cooler months, when there are fewer boaters on the water, to focus on their training and preparations for the coming boating season.

“This weekend’s exercise will help ensure the volunteers in these regions are response-ready for the summer.”

The exercise will start on Saturday with table-top exercises and presentations on rescue techniques and navigational planning at the Marine Rescue NSW Headquarters at Cronulla.

On Sunday morning, an array of rescue vessels will take to the water to conduct a major exercise over two defined search areas to locate and retrieve four rescue mannequins dropped in the ocean by the helicopter crew.

The search fleet will feature nine Marine Rescue vessels - including the newest addition to the fleet, Cottage Point 30, a $470,000 11.5m Sailfish catamaran delivered in July – two NSW Police vessels from the Sans Souci base and Surf Life Saving Rescue Water Craft.

The Lifesaver Helicopter also will join the search to locate the “missing” victims from the air and practicing winching techniques and recovery operations.

One search area will stretch from Bondi south to Kurnell and the second from Kurnell to Jibbon in the Royal National Park.

Both search operations will be coordinated from the Marine Rescue NSW State Operations and Communications Centre, from where senior personnel will set varying challenges for the search crews.

Deputy Commissioner Storey said the SAREX series helped strengthen joint agency capability.

“This is essential to ensure that we have the best possible chance of finding and rescuing someone in the water as soon as possible in an emergency, when time is always of the essence,” he said.

“Our volunteers deserve great credit for their commitment to building their skills and knowledge, enabling them to continue providing our boating community with a world-class safety net on the water.”


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