by Ken McManus
Long-serving local marine rescue volunteer, Alex (Shorty) Mathieson, shared the attention with his Marine Rescue unit’s new rescue vessel, PK 20, when it was formally commissioned and also named in his honour. Alex also received a Long Service Medal marking 35 years of dedicated service.
Norma Mathieson celebrates the naming of the new Port Kembla Marine Rescue vessel after her husband. LtoR: Alex (Shorty) Mathieson, Commander Peter Purnell, Gareth Ward MP, James Glissan QC, Rev Ray Green, Norma Mathieson
Marine Rescue Port Kembla now provides the region with even greater efficiency and effectiveness. At 8m survey length (9m overall), PK 20, the Alex (Shorty) Mathieson, is a powerful, fast response vessel and it has already been involved in several rescues since its delivery only a few weeks ago.
The commissioning ceremony was attended by Mr. Gareth Ward MP for Kiama, representing the Minister for Police & Emergency Services, the Hon. Michael Gallacher. He said 'I am very pleased to see that the former separate units of Wollongong, Lake Illawarra and Hill 60 Port Kembla have now combined resources to form Marine Rescue Port Kembla. This new rescue vessel represents a great advance for Marine Rescue NSW to serve the large local and visiting boating community who come to the Illawarra.'
Mr. James Glissan QC, Chairman of the Board of Marine Rescue NSW said 'Marine Rescue Port Kembla is a very busy base. In the first 6 months of the year, it has given assistance to over 30 local skippers as well as running several emergency Search and Rescue operations. The number of vessels that log on for radio safety coverage with Marine Rescue Port Kembla has reached more than 3,000 for this period'.
New Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner, Mr. Stacey Tannos ESM, said, 'I am extremely proud to have been appointed Commissioner of an organisation built on the commitment of its volunteers as demonstrated by the large turnout of members here today, not only from Port Kembla but other Marine Rescue NSW units in the Illawarra area.'
'This new vessel represents a major investment for Marine Rescue NSW,' Mr Tannos continued. 'Its cost of around $250,000 was enabled with important support from the NSW Government, NSW Maritime and contributions from the boat licences and registrations of the state’s boating community. Our good friends at NRMA have again supported our work with their contribution of a battery pack for re-starting flat batteries.'
The Commissioner presented service awards to a number of members:
5 year Pins: B.Belcher, C. Bowers, N. Budge, D. Couchman, J. Dean, J. Didby, F. Grayndler, A. Lloyd,
J. Parked, P. Schwinghammer, D. Wagstaff, B. Weston;
10 Year Service Medal: B. Mitchell;
15 Year Service Medal: J. Aldridge, K, Ellis;
30 Year Service Medal: A. Mathieson, who has 35 years up.
Unit Commander Peter Purnell presented photos of the new vessel to members who had put in a lot of time and effort preparing its mooring and for its arrival at the unit.
Marine Rescue NSW website