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News & Media

  • Sydney to Hobart emergency response test this weekend
  • November 20, 2015

With five weeks to go until the starter’s gun fires in the Sydney to Hobart, marine rescue specialists on the southern NSW coastline are this weekend honing their emergency response planning for the iconic race event.

A major capability exercise will be staged between Shoalhaven and Eden on Saturday, testing rescue crews’ preparations for a serious incident as the fleet heads south on December 26.

Marine Rescue NSW volunteers from 10 units on the Illawarra and Far South coasts will join the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command in the emergency activation exercise to test the agencies’ search and rescue response and coordination.

Crews will be tasked to lengthy searches for deployed targets in three locations along the coastline, starting early on Saturday morning.

Multiple boats and Rescue Water Craft (jet skis) from the Marine Rescue Shoalhaven, Jervis Bay, Sussex Inlet, Ulladulla, Kioloa, Batemans Bay, Tuross, Narooma, Bermagui and Merimbula units, along with the Marine Area Command, will search offshore and closer coastal waters.

The Westpac helicopter rescue service and NSW Roads and Maritime Services also will take part. 

The central command post for the exercise will be established at the Marine Rescue Batemans Bay Search and Rescue Coordination Centre, where a full debrief will be held on Sunday morning.

Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Dean Storey said the Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) was crucial to preparations for the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and the peak summer boating season.

“It’s not only the crews of the maxi-yachts and other competitors who are finalising their training, reviewing their planning and ensuring they’re race-fit for this annual event,” he said.

“The scenario for this SAREX is a major emergency in the Sydney to Hobart with multiple yachts missing in bad weather. This will test not only the skill of search and rescue crews but also the essential onshore coordination personnel responsible for directing the operation.

“Of course, no one wants to put this training into practice but we want to ensure that we are response- ready in an emergency, no matter when trouble strikes on the water.

“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.”

Deputy Commissioner Storey said the weekend’s event was the latest in the SAREX series staged along the coastline each year as part of the ongoing professional training program to build marine rescue search and rescue skills and agency interoperability.

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

“Strong and effective inter-agency capability 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.”

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