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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Marine Rescue vessel damaged

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Marine Rescue NSW has condemned the mindless vandalism of the service’s new Wooli vessel overnight, causing an estimated $50,000 in damage and reducing vital rescue resources on the mid north coast at the start of the peak boating season.

The Wooli is the prototype of the new Naiad Patrol Rescue Boat (pictured) that was delivered to Brunswick Marine Rescue just weeks ago.

The vessel’s buoyancy tubes were slashed, causing untold damage and likely putting the vessel out of commission for most of the season.

MRNSW commissioner Stacey Tannos said the $345,000 offshore rescue vessel was one of four Marine Rescue vessels gathered at Coffs Harbour for a multi-agency regional search and rescue exercise this weekend.

A NSW Fisheries boat and the NSW Police Force vessel Fearless also were targeted by the vandals.

‘Sometime between 4.30pm [Saturday] and 7am [Sunday] some mindless fool has slashed the sponsons – the boat’s airfilled buoyancy tubes – all the way around the vessel with something like a Stanley knife,’ Commissioner Tannos said.

‘Members of Marine Rescue NSW are all volunteers. They give their time to protect the community by helping boaters in trouble on the water.

‘They deserve nothing but our thanks and support but this vandalism is just a slap in the face in return for their selfless commitment.’

The Wooli vessel, which was only delivered at Easter, is now off the water for major repairs at the start of the peak summer boating season.

‘We have already been in touch with the boat’s builder, Yamba Welding & Engineering, who will look at a temporary fix to try to get the boat on the water as soon as possible while permanent replacement tubes are sourced,’ Commissioner Tannos said.

‘The mid north coast and northern rivers are among the state’s most popular summer boating playgrounds and it is vital that our rescue crews are trained and equipped to respond immediately when needed.

‘We will re-position a rescue vessel from our Iluka-Yamba unit to Wooli in the interim and will have the Wooli vessel back on the water as quickly as we can but this is a potentially life-threatening act of senseless stupidity.

‘As well as the expensive damage caused, it has also wasted significant public funding and resources by forcing today’s search and research exercise, which was designed to test regional agencies’ rescue skills and capabilities, to be considerably scaled back.

‘These exercises are an integral part of our members’ on-water training and this disruption is a major disappointment to them. These exercises help ensure that personnel from all relevant agencies are familiar with their roles and responsibilities in a marine emergency.’

Up to 50 Marine Rescue volunteers from the Wooli, Woolgoolga, Coffs Harbour, Nambucca, Trial Bay, Port Macquarie, Camden Have, Crowdy Harrington and Forster-Tuncurry Marine Rescue units were attending the two-day event, which started with desktop exercises yesterday.

A major simulated search and rescue of ‘missing persons’ (rescue dummies) was meant to take place on the water and Solitary Island today but, as a result of the vandalism, only a limited exercise could be mounted.


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Thats it for me, here we have a group of hard working volunteer people from our communities, who finally after many years of working get a piece of equipment that is to save lives, and an element with in our community which wantonly slashes the boat. To the vandals SHAME on you. If the only way to save life saving equipment is to have it watched 24×7 then bring it on and Byron Council should be installing CCTV in on community buildings and equipment. If the culprits are found, they should have there pictures in the paper to show people who these incredibly thoughtless hooligans are. Its such a shame that the Marine Rescue dosnt have a place to safely moor its life saving boat in Brunswick harbour come on council get a grant for goodness sake to get this much needed infrastructure in place

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