2 February 2024

Remote-controlled life buoy bolsters Marine Rescue's lifesaving capabilities

| Katrina Condie
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marine rescue crew

Marine Rescue NSW volunteers launched the new remote-controlled life buoy on the Shoalhaven River. Photo: MRNSW.

A new remote-controlled motorised rescue device will help save lives on South Coast waterways, while also keeping Marine Rescue NSW volunteers safe.

Amid much fanfare, the MRNSW Shoalhaven unit launched the Illawarra region’s first remote-controlled on-water lifesaving USafe device at the Nowra Public Wharf on Wednesday 31 January.

The state-of-the-art rescue equipment was funded by a $13,000 grant from Manildra Group.

MRNSW Southern Zone Commander Mike Hammond said the generosity of Manildra aided the unit to purchase the “versatile and reliable piece of equipment” that would assist volunteers in their mission of saving lives on the water.

“It is also reassuring for boaters, paddlers and swimmers who use our local waterways that this valuable tool is at the ready should they require assistance,” he said.

“The financial support provided by Manildra Group to add the USafe to our rescue capability is greatly appreciated.”

MRNSW Shoalhaven Deputy Unit Commander Lynne Hocking said the USafe life buoy would assist rescue crews in locations where they might not be able to get a vessel, such as near rocks or in shallow waters.

“This incredible piece of equipment can assist with recovering people in the water or getting a tow line to a disabled vessel in a challenging location,” she explained.

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“The device is easily transferable between the Shoalhaven unit’s two rescue vessels and will be deployed when required to assist with the tasked mission.

“The USafe has a 300-metre working range and can transport up to 160 kg of buoyancy.

“It also features a variable speed motor so our rescue crews can approach a person gently or steer around hazards in the water.”

life buoy

The USafe rescue device was funded by a $13,000 grant from Manildra Group. Photo: MRNSW.

Manildra Group Shoalhaven Starches Site Manager Tertius Jones said the organisation was delighted to donate funds for the USafe.

“We take great pride in our partnership with Marine Rescue Shoalhaven and their team of inspirational local volunteers who provide their time, energy, and commitment in lifesaving work to protect and assist those who need assistance on the water,” he said.

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“With our manufacturing site located on the Shoalhaven River, it’s important we support the work of Marine Rescue Shoalhaven in actively patrolling and performing search and rescue missions on our local waters.

“Our family-owned Australian business is deeply committed to creating positive impacts and strengthening resilience in our local communities and we’re proud our donation will further support Marine Rescue Shoalhaven’s mission to save lives on the water.”

Meanwhile, about 50 Marine Rescue NSW volunteers from across the Northern Rivers, Mid North Coast, Hunter/Central Coast, Greater Sydney, Illawarra and Monaro regions will take part in the NSW State Emergency Service’s (SES) annual statewide flood capability training exercise, Who Let the Boats Out this Saturday (3 February).

Marine Rescue NSW General Manager Training and Capability Brad Whittaker said 21 Marine Rescue NSW vessels would be involved in Saturday’s exercise on Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin.

“It is a great opportunity for Marine Rescue NSW to work with other rescue agencies, specifically the SES in the flood rescue space and one of our targets is to improve our overall capability to support a statewide uptake in flood rescue capability,” he said.

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