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Monday, June 24, 2024

Illawarra marine rescue units set for major exercise

More than 60 Marine Rescue NSW volunteers from all seven units across the Illawarra region are set to take part in a major search and rescue exercise (SAREX) hosted by Marine Rescue Shellharbour at Shellharbour Marina this weekend (May 25-26).

Marine Rescue NSW Illawarra Zone Duty Operations Manager, Inspector Stuart Massey said the exercise will be coordinated by NSW Police Marine Area Command and involve partner agencies including Surf Life Saving NSW and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.

“These exercises are held to put our training into practice alongside our partner agencies so when the call comes we can respond with an efficient coordinated response,” he said.

Inspector Massey said the Illawarra SAREX is a crucial training exercise to ensure Marine Rescue NSW volunteers are rescue ready.

“The on-water component will be held on Saturday morning with Marine Area Command to deliver a search and rescue scenario.”

“Crews will be tasked to search for targets (mannequins) in the water along with other items associated with a distressed vessel.

“The exercise will be held off Shellharbour but there will be some inshore activity between Barrack Point and Bass Point with Marine Rescue NSW volunteers operating alongside Water Police and Surf Life Saving members to complete a specific search and rescue scenario.

“Saturday’s on-water exercise will involve Marine Rescue NSW volunteers and vessels from the Shellharbour, Port Kembla, Shoalhaven, Jervis Bay, Sussex Inlet, Ulladulla and Kioloa units.

“All seven units will be contributing rescue vessels for the exercise while four Rescue Water Craft (jet skis) will be supplied by the Jervis Bay and Sussex Inlet units.

“The vessels will depart Shellharbour Marina between 9am and 9:30am on Saturday morning providing an excellent opportunity for the community to see part of Marine Rescue NSW’s Illawarra fleet together with great viewing opportunities from the breakwall walkway.

“The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter and a NSW Water Police vessel will also be involved with Marine Area Command coordinating the exercise,” he said.

Inspector Massey said a desktop search and rescue exercise involving more than 20 Marine Rescue NSW volunteers will also be held on Saturday.

“It is a simulated desktop exercise involving all aspects of our radio operations and emergency management.

“It is important for our radio operators to practice in a controlled environment with simulated pressure so they can develop and execute communication and navigation plans effectively.

“Clear and concise communication is paramount during search and rescue missions,” he said.

Marine Rescue Jervis Bay volunteer, Stefania Nitto, will be participating in her first desktop exercise and said it is a great opportunity to hone her skills as a Watch Officer.

“I’m looking forward to upskill our training in the radio room to be able to provide the best quality care and assistance to everybody out on the water, she said.

Ms Nitto said Saturday’s exercise will be a wonderful opportunity to work with fellow volunteers from the region’s seven units.

“It will be interesting to see all of our training matching up and seeing how everything works cohesively as an Illawarra team zone.”

Inspector Massey said all seven Marine Rescue NSW units involved would maintain radio and on-water response in their local areas during the Shellharbour exercise.

“The community can be assured that in the event of a real emergency on our waterways from Port Kembla to Kioloa, our rescue craft and crews are ready to respond,” he said.

The NSW Government is providing financial assistance for the Illawarra SAREX to support the vital work of Marine Rescue NSW and its 3,400 volunteers.

Marine Rescue NSW is a volunteer based not-for-profit professional organisation dedicated to keeping boaters safe on the water and supporting local communities.

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