Port Stephens Officers Commended for Rescue Operation

A team of Port Stephens Water Police officers have been awarded for their efforts in a major rescue operation last year.

Sergeant Tony and Senior Constables Matthew Gray and Nicholas Leach have each received a Commendation for a 54 hour operation which saw them rescue three sailors from a troubled yacht near Lord Howe Island.

The officers received a distress call on November 9th, 2020 after the vessel’s mast broke 100 nautical miles from the island leaving the crew struggling in rough seas and high winds.

They monitored the vessel for 48 hours before realising the yacht wouldn’t make it back to the mainland without help.

The trio then set off to tow the vessel home, covering more than 400 nautical miles in seas up to five metres and winds over 40 knots.

After more than two days on the water battling tough conditions, the officers and the yacht’s crew made it back to safety.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority Executive Director, Response Mark Morrow said the officers conducted the operation in extreme conditions and saved the lives of three men.

“All three crew performed their duties as police officers and mariners with extreme professionalism and courage under adverse ocean conditions and I consider them to be an exemplary example of ‘Outstanding Contribution to Search and Rescue’ in Australia,” said Mr Morrow.