Marine Rescue members honoured for work in five significant rescue operations

Members of Port Stephens Marine Rescue were commended for their part in five major rescue operations in recent years.

A RECORD 23 members of Marine Rescue Port Stephens received special awards at a ceremony held on Tuesday 11 April for their roles in five major rescue operations conducted over the past four years.

The first official ceremony for the recently appointed Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer Alex Barrell, the event honoured those who have risked their own safety to save lives at sea.

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Restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic have meant that such events have not been possible until recently.

Because of this the operations recognised at the awards ceremony occurred as far back as 2019.

“Tonight’s ceremony was a special occasion in many ways as the members of the Port Stephens unit put themselves in harm’s way time and time again,” said Commissioner Barrell in his speech at the event.

“The team work is exceptional and is the key to all our 46 units across NSW.”

In 2019 Marine Rescue responded to calls of a capsized catamaran in the waters east of Newcastle and a helicopter crash at Birubi Beach.

In 2020 a yacht was successfully diverted from running onto rocks at Providence Bay, and four men were rescued after their work-boat overturned in rough waters.

In 2022 a lone skipper who ran his boat onto rocks at Shark Island was successfully rescued.

The awards recognised the contributions of volunteers who operate rescue boats, oversee communications via radio and support the work of the organisation through administration, fundraising and other efforts.

Marine Rescue Port Stephen Unit Commander Ben van der Winjgaart said, “It is particularly pleasing to see the number of people being deservedly honoured for their efforts tonight.

“It just shows the success of Marine Rescue’s efforts to save lives on the water is all about constantly rehearsed teamwork by a dedicated group of volunteers.

“It’s not about a few individual heroes.”

By Lindsay HALL

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