VOLUNTEERS from Marine Rescue Bermagui celebrated a double milestone in their unit’s development on Friday when NSW Treasurer and Member for Bega Andrew Constance formally commissioned their $630,000 offshore rescue vessel and opened their harbour front base.
Mr Constance joined Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos, board directors Howard Staples and Bob Wilson and unit members for the dual ceremony at Bermagui Harbour.
Volunteers from Narooma and Merimbula also attended driving their own vessels, Narooma 30 and Merimbula 30, to Bermagui for the ceremonies.
Mr Constance said the unit’s rescue vessel, Bermagui 30, a 38-foot Steber, had improved the safety of local and visiting boaters on the area’s waters and the unit’s volunteers.
“This boat is a tremendous asset for the members of Marine Rescue Bermagui and our boating and fishing community,” he said.
“It is ideally suited to respond to boating emergencies up to 30 nautical miles offshore, making it a valuable addition to marine search and rescue resources on the Far South Coast.
“This region is one of the most popular deep-sea fishing areas in the State but it can be dangerous out there on the water and it’s important our volunteers have access to state-of-the-art rescue vessels to assist those who get into trouble and need their help.
“The NSW Government is proud to support our emergency services volunteers, who are one of this State’s greatest assets. The skilled and experienced members of the Bermagui unit give their time unstintingly to assist boaters in trouble and save lives on the water.”
Commissioner Tannos said Bermagui 30 was one of 39 new and refurbished rescue vessels delivered at a cost of more than $11 million as part of Marine Rescue’s ongoing program to upgrade its rescue fleet through the financial support of the NSW Government and the boating community.
Mr Constance said the Marine Rescue Bermagui base, upstairs on the Fishermans Co-operative Wharf, provided the unit’s volunteers with an excellent view of activity on the harbour, a purpose-built radio operations room and dedicated training facilities.
“This has significantly enhanced the unit’s ability to respond to boating emergencies and to provide effective on-site training for its members. It’s also a convenient location for boaters and members of the public to call in to support the unit or to get some advice on boating conditions and safety,” he said.
“This impressive new facility is a credit to the hard work and commitment of the unit’s members.”
Mr Constance also presented National Medals to unit members David Gelme and Sandy Livingston and a MRNSW Long Service Medal to David Evans in recognition of their diligent service.
Unit Commander Alec Percival said Bermagui 30 had conducted 30 rescue operations since its delivery.
“As a purpose-built rescue vessel, it is reliable, highly-manoeuvrable, safe and stable. It is fitted with state of the art navigation, marine radios, Automatic Identification System and thermal imaging cameras, along with a cardiac defibrillator and oxygen therapy,” he said.
Percival thanked the Fisherman’s Co-operative members and manager Rocky Lagana, the Bermagui Slipway and John Clarke, of Clarke Law, for their support for the unit.
Commissioner Tannos paid tribute to the unit’s volunteers for their dedication to serving the large local and visiting boating community along the coastline.
“Our volunteers are committed to saving lives on the water, giving their time to respond to emergencies, as well as to attend regular training, raise funds and ensure their unit operates effectively,” he said.
“The Bermagui unit also enjoys a great deal of support from its local community.
“The people of this region clearly value their volunteers, donating generously and taking part in fundraising activities such as the unit’s annual boat raffles, helping provide the funding for this new vessel and facility. We thank them for this.”
The Commissioner also 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 NSW Government and through boaters’ registration and licence fees is essential to our work to provide NSW with a world-class marine search and rescue, radio network and education service for safer boating,” he said.
All the volunteers and dignitaries then retired to enjoy some snacks including local oysters and a cake in the shape of BG30 made by Heather Percival, the wife of the unit commander.