by Ken McManus
At the official commissioning ceremony for the unit’s new $280,000 offshore rescue vessel on Saturday June 29, Volunteers from Marine Rescue Port Jackson were reunited with a Sydney sailor whose life they helped save.
Preparing to administer the ceremonial champagne at Commissioning of Port Jackson 30 - Marine rescue NSW
Members of the Marine Rescue Port Jackson and Middle Harbour units used an onboard defibrillator to help revive Arthur Cooley when he suffered a heart attack during a day on board a friend’s motor yacht on Sydney Harbour in October 2011.
Mr Cooley and his wife Barbara attended the commissioning of Port Jackson 30, along with Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads, John Ajaka, Canada Bay Mayor Angelo Tsirekas, MRNSW Board members and Commissioner Stacey Tannos.
Barbara Cooley pours the ceremonial champagne for Port Jackson 30 - Marine rescue NSW
Mrs Cooley, who also was on board during the emergency, christened the new boat Rob James, in recognition of the service of Mr James, who has been a member of the unit for more than 33 years.
Commissioner Tannos said the 8 metre Kevlacat, which was able to travel up to 15 nautical miles offshore, was a valuable addition to marine search and rescue resources in Greater Sydney.
'Port Jackson 30 is one of our three fast response Kevlacat rescue vessels on the water in the Sydney region, with its sister catamarans on duty with our Botany Bay and Port Hacking units,' Commissioner Tannos said.
'It is part of our strategic safety net protecting boaters on the water along the NSW coastline from the Queensland border to Eden and inland on the Alpine Lakes and the Murray River at Moama.
'This boat is one of more than 30 new and refurbished vessels delivered at a cost of more than $9 million as part of our ongoing project to upgrade our rescue fleet through the financial support of the NSW Government and the boating community.'
MR Port Jackson Unit Commander David Hand (R), with Rob James, whose 33 years of service to the unit is honoured by naming rights on the new vessel Port Jackson 30 - Marine rescue NSW
Unit Commander David Hand said Port Jackson 30 provided speedy access to the busy waters of the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers, Sydney Harbour and the open ocean beyond the Heads.
'It’s a great asset for the unit and for boaters in trouble on these waterways,' he said.
'It has improved our response times as it is faster and carries more sophisticated electronic equipment on board than our previous vessel.
'Along with our Sailfish catamaran Port Jackson 20, which was refurbished last year in an $80,000 project, it ensures our volunteers can work efficiently, safely and swiftly to help boaters in trouble on the water.'
Powered by twin 300hp Suzuki outboards, the boat is equipped with state-of-the-art Raymarine navigation and AIS (Automatic Identification System), Icom marine radios, FLIR thermal imaging camera and advanced first aid gear, including a defibrillator and oxygen therapy.
It has assisted in a number of boating emergencies and searches, as well as with crowd control for the major summer events on the harbour, including the New Year’s Eve fireworks, the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and the Australia Day celebrations.
Commissioner Tannos paid tribute to the unit’s volunteers for their dedication to serving the large boating community gathered around the harbour, particularly west of the Harbour Bridge, and down the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers.
'The Port Jackson members are committed to saving lives on the water, giving their time to respond to emergencies, attend regular training and raise funds,' he said.
Commissioner Tannos acknowledged the vital support of the State Government and the boating community for Marine Rescue’s essential services.
'The financial support we receive from the Government and through boaters’ registration and licence fees provides about 50 per cent of the annual budget we need to provide NSW with a world-class marine search and rescue, radio network and education service for safer boating,' he said.
Commissioner Tannos reminded boaters to always wear their lifejackets and to Log On and Off with their local Marine Rescue radio base whenever they were on the water. To find your local base, visit Marine Rescue NSW website.