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Award for radio operator in foundering yacht incident

by Ken McManus on 11 Mar 2011
Assistant Commissioner Ken McKay (left); Commander of the NSW Police Special Services Group presents Marine Rescue Radio Operator Ian Murdoch with his award. .. .
On Friday Marine Rescue Terrey Hills Radio Operator Ian Murdoch was awarded the Region Commander's Certificate of Appreciation from NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Ken McKay.

Marine Radio Operator Murdoch, together with four members of Broken Bay Water Police, received awards for their part in the rescue of six people on board the stricken yacht 'Encore' which foundered in gale force conditions off Broken Bay on the afternoon of 23 October, 2008.


On that day MRO Murdoch was the sole radio operator on duty at the Marine Rescue Sydney radio base in Terrey Hills. Although alone, he was able to manage a non-stop, 75 minutes of intense pressures in a Mayday call for help. He relayed the distressed vessel's position to other vessels in the area, informed Water Police, co-ordinated a veritable fleet of responding vessels - the police launch, a passenger ferry, a bulk carrier and a training yacht - and maintained contact with the vessel until Water Police were able to take the six off the sinking vessel.

Ian’s adherence to procedures and his calm, level-headed approach ensured that despite the atrocious conditions, Water Police were able to quickly locate the vessel and rescue all on board. The entire operation took just 75 minutes from the 1st Mayday call at 1445 to the successful recovery of the six passengers at 1600.

When asked about his role in the rescue, MRO Murdoch replied, 'While I am thrilled to receive this honour, I am sure that any marine rescue volunteer would have acted in the same way.'

Ron Woosey, Unit Commander at the base said, 'Ian Murdoch is one of a team of dedicated volunteers who operate the 24/7 service at Marine Rescue Sydney, located in the Emergency Services complex at Terrey Hills and it’s very gratifying to all of us when one of our team is recognised for their work.'

'We have almost 80 members who have been trained as marine radio operators and we always welcome anyone who would like to join us,' continued Commander Woosey. 'I often say that while we can’t promise you a Mayday, we will train you how to handle one. Ian’s experience is a perfect example of how our training enabled one of our members to deal with a Mayday and make a lifesaving difference to six people on that day in 2008.'

For inquiries about becoming a marine radio operator on the 24/7 Marine Rescue Sydney service at Terrey Hills, call the base at 02 9450 2468.
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