More than 100 marine rescue specialists from the Illawarra and South Coast are taking part in a major search exercise this weekend to ensure they are at peak readiness for the summer boating season.
Photo: Marine Rescue NSW Volunteers from 12 Marine Rescue NSW units and representatives of the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command, Surf Life Saving and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter are joining the Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX), based at Batemans Bay.
The SAREX is designed to test agencies’ marine search and rescue skill and coordination ahead of the summer influx of boating traffic on the southern coastline and the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
It will also test new and upgraded communications infrastructure recently installed at Bermagui, Round Hill, Moruya and Dr George Mountain to improve marine radio reception and eliminate blackspots on the coastline, as well as new digital radio fit-outs in the Marine Rescue Batemans Bay and Bermagui radio bases.
Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Dean Storey said the weekend would be the largest regional capability exercise the service had held to date.
“This joint exercise has been designed to ensure our people, assets and technology are well prepared for the busiest months on the water, particularly if we are called to respond to multiple major incidents occurring simultaneously and to watch over the blue water race to Hobart.
“Boaters can be confident that if they need help this summer, we are ready,” he said.
Participants assembled this morning for a day of tabletop exercises and a review of search theory.
Crews will head on to the water tomorrow to locate targets in two search areas, north of Batemans Bay and near Mimosa Rocks, south of Bermagui.
One hundred volunteers, 10 boats and two Rescue Water Craft from Marine Rescue Shoalhaven, Jervis Bay, Sussex Inlet, Ulladulla, Kioloa, Batemans Bay, Tuross, Narooma, Bermagui, Merimbula, Alpine Lakes and Moama are taking part.
Deputy Commissioner Storey said SAREX operations were staged along the coastline each year as part the organisation’s ongoing professional training program.
“Ensuring our members are well equipped and trained for their roles is critical to volunteer safety and integral to our mission to save lives on the water,” he said.