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News & Media

  • Marine Rescue Shellharbour volunteers honoured for bravery
  • October 25, 2015

Three members of Marine Rescue Shellharbour have been awarded this weekend for their bravery and skill during a rescue operation to save two men and a 12-year-old boy stranded in a tinnie in turbulent seas off Gerringong last year.

Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson MP and Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos presented Vessel Master Peter Keft, Helmsman Shane Gallaty and Navigator Geoff Troth with the Commissioner’s Commendation for Courage during a function to celebrate the Shellharbour unit’s 30th anniversary tonight.

Commissioner Tannos said the Commendation was formal recognition of the three crew members’ bravery and operational expertise in the face of exceptional challenges during the rescue mission on October 5, 2014.

“The three people on board this tinnie owe their lives to the crew members of Shellharbour 30,” Commissioner Tannos said.

“Mr Keft, Mr Galatty and Mr Troth are deserving of the highest of accolades for the courage and skill they showed to rescue the three, who were in serious peril in the conditions, rated by Mr Keft as the worst he had seen in a decade of marine rescue service.

“Our crew placed the safety of others ahead of their own in order to fulfil our mission to save lives on the water. Our volunteers are well equipped and trained for their work but these three crew members also brought a large amount of courage on board with them that night.

“I congratulate them all for this recognition of their unwavering commitment to the safety of the boating community.”

The trio on board the tinnie had set out for an afternoon’s fishing. They called for help at 5.15pm when their boat ran out of fuel and the anchor would not hold in the worsening conditions.

Mr Keft, Mr Gallaty and Mr Troth responded on board the unit’s new 10m Naiad, Shellharbour 30, pushing into wind gusts up to 60 knots and short steep seas up to 4m, in a sea fog that reduced visibility to just two nautical miles.

The crew maintained contact with the three on board the tinnie, which was taking on water, via a mobile phone as the boat’s radio was out of service.

In total darkness and fog, Shellharbour 30 used its navigation and strobe lights to increase its visibility to the distressed trio, who then guided the rescue vessel to their location.  It was only when they were 100m from the tinnie that the rescue crew could spot its lights in the fog.

A line was attached with great difficulty in the conditions and the three, who were wet and cold, were transferred on board Shellharbour 30 and wrapped in blankets inside the cabin for the slow trip to tow their boat back to shore.

Mr Keft applauded the efforts of the young boy on board the tinnie for doing a great job in keeping a cool head as he communicated with the rescue crew throughout the operation.


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