RVCP rescue vessels

 

 

By Ken McManus

Photos by Brian Gunter at Narooma

This article first appeared in the Narooma News
on the 28th January 2009

 
Despite the continuing high cost of maintenance our six Waveneys (and the two somewhat younger 52ft Aruns) are the only purpose built, self-righting rescue lifeboats in any Australian volunteer rescue fleet.

The Waveney class lifeboats were all acquired in 1999 after the 1998 Sydney Hobart. It became clear that the vessels then available in Australian volunteer fleets were not the kind best suited for that type of extreme weather. In a remarkably well-timed cooncidence, we obtained six in total from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution of the UK in quite a stunning deal, full details of which I’m not clear on but it was a huge saving even on their then value.

They were shipped out as deck cargo by P&O Nedlloyd hence the names “Strathmore” (Narooma), “Strathallan” (ex Ulladulla now Broken Bay); “Strathnaver” (Batemans Bay); “Stratheden: (Botany Bay); “Rawalpindi” (Sydney - Port Jackson) and “Strathaird” (Trial Bay). All the names are/were P&O Nedlloyd ships.

Ulladulla’s 52ft Arun class “Encounter” was also similarly named. Its P&O Nedlloyd namesake is a 53,000 tonne container ship that served Australian ports for P&O between 2002 and 2006. (Now sold to another shipping line) But I was on board her during a training exercise to Newcastle and the radio operator called in to the Port authorities that Coastal Patrol P&O Nedlloyd Encounter was entering harbour and the proverbial hit the fan as there was a big bulk carrier leaving port at the same time. All the authorities could imagine was that these two big carriers were steaming towards each other in a relatively narrow channel. Her callsign became Coastal Patrol Lifeboat Encounter from then on.

The Waveney class is a design of the US Coast Guard and there’s an enthusiast’s website at www.44mlb.com full of other info. The down side of these great boats is that they’re very costly to maintain as they’re all approaching 40 years of service. We’ve had almost 10 years from them but we know they will have to be replaced sooner rather than later, however funding suitable replacement vessels is a big mountain to climb. But we’ll get there.

Inthe meantime they will continue to be maintained. Our major priority is to get NSW Volunteer Marine Rescue Service, the new single VMRO in place within the next 12 to 24 months. That has to be bedded down with all three organisations and hat’s taking all our efforts right now. But like the fleet replacement, we’ll get there.

The Waveneys plus the 52ft Aruns, also ex-RNLI (one at Ulladulla and one at Port Stephens) give us 8 heavy duty offshore, self-righting Category three lifeboats accredited to 15 nautical miles seawards but not unknown to travel out futher if necessary. As you can tell by their locations, they’re part of a strategic positioning that helps us cover a large part of the NSW coast with this type of offshore resource.

Smart Skippers plan for Boating Safety

The end of the summer holidays is here and it is the last chance for many to get out and enjoy a day on the water.

The Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol reminds all skippers that they are responsible for the safety of all their passengers and the time to check your boat is now – before you launch or leave your mooring on the weekend.

Last year the Coastal Patrol went to the assistance of 1,157 boats carrying 2,634 dads, mums and kids on trips that began full of fun but finished with problems – some very serious.

Already this year Coastal Patrol lifeboats up and down the NSW coast have gone to the urgent aid of more than a dozen boats – at least three of which were in life-threatening trouble: three men in the water 20km offshore from Merimbula and it was 6 hours before a full air-sea search located them; two men fishing 7km offshore at Batemans Bay when their boat starting sinking and the motors wouldn’t start; one boat at Narooma drifting toward rocks without an anchor – the skipper said he took it off because he never used it! Fortunately there were happy endings all around.

Smart Skippers know it doesn’t take much time to help ensure you avoid a similar experience. Just make it a “must-do” practice to conduct safety check on your boat before you cast off.

Check your fuel, engine oil and coolant levels. Is your fuel fresh? Do you have enough fuel to get back from your trip? Are your batteries fully charged? Is there more water in the bilges than usual? Is your marine radio working?

There is a checklist of 24 items in the NSW Maritime Boating Handbook. This is available from your local volunteer marine rescue organisation, NSW Maritime offices or on the NSW Maritime website www.maritime.nsw.gov.au/rec_boating/sbh.html Get a copy and be a Smart Skipper because the more thorough your boating safety check, the less likelihood you’ll need to call for help.

Have a great Australia Day weekend and whenever you go out always “Log On” with your local Volunteer Marine Rescue Service, “Log Off” when you return and use your marine radio as your first choice if you need to call for help. More people can hear you and the volunteers will be on duty on a waterway near you throughout the weekend.

 

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