Saving lives on the water

Each year, Marine Rescue Newcastle volunteers respond to approximately 50 on water emergencies. Among the many requests for assistance undertaken in 2021, one emergency was a midnight rescue of a yacht at the entrance to Newcastle Harbour which had suffered engine failure in the pitch-black darkness and was in danger of being dashed onto the rocks.

In another incident, an ailing crew member on an offshore cargo ship required medical evacuation. Two NSW Ambulance paramedics were taken out to the cargo vessel in the Marine Rescue Newcastle vessel, and after receiving medical attention the sick crew member was then transferred in rough sea conditions back to shore and a waiting ambulance.

These recounts tell of the important life-saving role Marine Rescue Newcastle has in our local harbour and waterways. In 2020, The Newcastle Volunteer Marine Rescue Unit, received funding from Port Waratah to purchase an essential air berth (or dry berth) to protect and maintain their rescue vessel.

The air berth lifts and secures the Unit’s new $535,000 rescue vessel, Newcastle 30, out of the water when it’s not in use for emergencies, routine patrols or training exercises.

Marine Rescue Newcastle Unit Commander Ron Calman thanked Port Waratah for its generous support for its volunteers and mission to save lives on the water.

“This new infrastructure means our boat spends far less time out of the water for cleaning, maintenance and repairs to damage to the hull caused by salt and marine growth,” Ron said.

“That’s good news for Newcastle boaters because it means we’re always ready to head out at a moment’s notice whenever we receive a call for help.”

Not only does the air berth ensure the rescue vessel is in mission-ready condition to respond to a call for help on the water. It also protects the health of our waterways, as the boat’s hull no longer needs to be coated with poisonous anti-fouling chemicals, which can leech into the water and damage the marine ecosystem.

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