Concerns over a lack of mooring in Currambene Creek for Marine Rescue Jervis Bay, highlighted during Tuesday afternoon’s rescue in Jervis Bay, will be addressed.
A swimmer was noticed in trouble about 200m off Huskisson around 1.40pm, with the man clinging to a buoy off Huskisson Beach.
Despite its Huskisson base only being minutes away, Marine Rescue Jervis Bay crews were unable to help in the rescue because their vessel is moored across Jervis Bay at HMAS Creswell.
It was a situation watch officer Jamie Hope described as “silly” and “potentially life threatening” but Unit Commander Kevin Hill said it was hoped it would be rectified before the start of the boating season, just weeks away.
In Tuesday’s incident Marine Rescue mustered crews who proceeded to Creswell but by the time they got to the scene the rescue had been completed.
During the rescue, there were problems with the boat, commandeered by police from a member of the public, which capsized.
Four people were thrown into the water but made it safely to shore.
“In the past we’ve had access to Admiralty Wharf, upstream in Currambene Creek, to moor our boat,” Commander Hill said.
“We have an air berth, a submersible pen that the boat can be driven into and secured and then lifted out of the water when not in use, cutting maintenance costs, reducing fouling and barnacles etc.
“It is ideal when a boat, like ours, is not in use 24/7. It can sometimes sit there, not being used until needed.
“We have wanted to install that next to Admiralty Wharf for many years but it was determined the water was not deep enough.”
He said Maritime Services now also had a boat permanently moored at the location with an air berth.
“Through Shoalhaven City Council, Maritime and with help from local member Shelley Hancock and the state government, funds have been made available for the wharf to be extended, meaning we will also be able to install our airlift,” Commander Hill said.
“That will allow us to base one of our boats, the Wayne Walker 2, a 7.5m Ocean Cylinder we received 18 months ago, our preferred response boat for Jervis Bay around Huskisson and Callala due to its shallow draft, in Currambene Creek.
“Our bigger vessel, the Colin Woods, which requires deep water access, will remain moored at Creswell.
“We are delighted this is happening, it’s something we have been working towards for a number of years and will reduce our response times.”
Work is being carried out on the Woollamia Boat Ramp and it is hoped the extension to Admiralty Wharf will follow, with access available before the start of the boating season, just a few weeks away.
Meanwhile, police have defended their actions in using a private boat during the rescue of the swimmer.
Help was sought from Marine Rescue Jervis Bay and the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter from Moruya.
However, officers had immediate and grave concerns for the man’s welfare and commandeered a privately owned boat to rescue the stricken swimmer.
As the boat was returning to Huskisson it developed fuel line problems and in the choppy sea conditions began taking on water and capsized. Two police officers, a female sergeant and male senior constable, the boat owner and the rescued swimmer thrown into the water.
Shoalhaven Local Area Command duty officer Chief Inspector Steve Johnson said it was not unusual for police to seek help from the public in such an instance.
“We had a number of police on the beach at the time of the incident and in their opinion the swimmer was in distress,” Chief Inspector Johnson said.
“They were providing information to police radio as to what was happening.
“Marine Rescue had been contacted and they were getting crews ready to deploy. The Westpac Rescue Helicopter had also been deployed.
“But it was decided to commandeer a boat to effect the rescue.
“This was an unfortunate accident.”
As of Wednesday morning the 4.5m boat remained submerged off Huskisson Beach, although it had been driven south by the strong nor'easter wind and was near the entrance to Moona Moona Creek.
Chief Inspector Johnson said police had spoken to the owner of the boat and were liaising with him to recover the vessel.