by Ken McManus
Marine Rescue Wooli’s offshore rescue vessel has been vandalised for the second time in less than a year and valuable equipment stolen from on board.
Wooli 30 in action before the theft and vandalism
The vessel, moored on the Wooli River outside the unit’s base, was broken into overnight on Friday, with the thieves damaging radio antennas and stealing a range of small equipment.
The cost of the damage and stolen items is estimated to be almost $2000. The $345,000 Naiad, delivered to the Wooli unit at Easter 2012, is still fit for duty on the water.
Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos condemned the theft and damage to the boat.
'It’s utterly thoughtless to damage a community resource vital to saving lives on the water,' he said.
'All our members are volunteers. They give their time to protect their communities by helping boaters in trouble, often when they are in immediate peril.
'Far from this insult, they deserve nothing but our thanks and support for their selfless commitment.'
Wooli 30 was one of three boats vandalised during a combined agency Search and Rescue Exercise at Coffs Harbour on November 25, 2012, when its sponsons – the boat’s air-filled buoyancy tubes – were slashed.
The thieves this week stole a sea anchor, its fittings and line, a fire extinguisher, two sets of binoculars and a torch, worth a total of more than $1200.
While the unit has been able to repair one antenna, another must be replaced.
'Fortunately, this incident is not as serious as last year’s attack. Although the boat is still on the water, it is a major inconvenience to the unit’s volunteers, who rely on all this equipment in their work to find and assist boaters in trouble,' Commissioner Tannos said.
'The Northern Rivers is among the State’s most popular summer boating playgrounds and it is crucial that our rescue crews are properly equipped to respond immediately when needed.'
Commissioner Tannos urged anyone with any information on the incident or thieves to call Grafton police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.