by Ken McManus
Volunteer members of Marine Rescue Ulladulla will celebrate two milestones for their unit tomorrow with the commissioning of their new $650,000 rescue vessel and the opening of their new $132,000 training centre.
Ulladulla 30 (Warden II) ready to respond. At the Duty Wharf in Ulladulla Harbour
Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos and Board member Doug Musker will join dignitaries including Member for Gilmore and Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash and NSW Parliamentary Speaker and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock, along with members of the Ulladulla unit at the event.
Ulladulla 30, which also carries the name Warden II, is a 38 foot long-cabin Steber rapid response vessel capable of travelling up to 30 nautical miles offshore, equipped with state-of-the-art navigation, electronics and communications equipment.
Commissioner Tannos said the vessel was a valuable addition to rescue resources on the Illawarra coastline.
'Ulladulla 30 forms an important part of Marine Rescue’s strategic safety net of offshore rescue vessels on our coastal waters,' Commissioner Tannos said.
'This is just one of more than 30 new and refurbished vessels delivered to local units at a cost of $9 million as part of our major fleet upgrade to ensure our volunteers have safe, reliable and modern boats for their vital safety work.'
Ulladulla Unit Commander Ken Lambert said Ulladulla 30 was the unit’s first new vessel, replacing its former boat, the Arun class Encounter, which had been retired due to the increasing cost and effort needed to keep it at peak rescue readiness.
'The vessel has already proven its value since its delivery during the peak summer boating season, ensuring our crews have been able to respond swiftly and efficiently to a number of incidents on our local waters,' he said.
The vessel’s name not only reflects its work as a guardian of the region’s boaters but also the southern headland to Ulladulla Harbour, Warden Head, named after the region’s pioneering boat-building brothers David and James Warden. The unit’s original Warden vessel was commissioned in 1989.
The new training centre significantly upgrades volunteer facilities at the Ulladulla base, replacing the unit’s previous cramped training room.
Mr Musker said the construction was carried out by I-Build Creations, owned by Ulladulla crew member Sean Grabia and supported by local businesses.
'Sean and his wife Laura put in a lot of their own time on the project and obtained thousands of dollars’ worth of savings from suppliers, including donations of materials worth up to $15,000,' he said.
The centre is fitted out with electronic training equipment including training computers, a computer-linked smart TV and electronic whiteboard. It will be used for radio and boat crew training for unit volunteers, as well as for public boating licence and radio courses and testing. It also will be available for community use.
Commissioner Tannos paid tribute to the unit’s volunteers for their dedication to serving the boating community in the popular fishing and boating region of the Illawarra coastline.
'The Ulladulla members are tremendously committed to saving lives on the water, giving their time selflessly to respond to emergencies, attend regular training and conduct education and fundraising activities,' he said.
'The volunteers are to be commended for their energetic fundraising, which has allowed the unit to pay for this outstanding new training centre and make a significant contribution towards the cost of its new vessel. This is a tremendous effort that has required a great deal of commitment beyond their other duties.'
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 world-class marine search and rescue, radio network and safer boating education,' he said.