Newcastle’s Marine Rescue unit will soon have a permanent home in Stockton, with the first sod turned at the site today.
For the better part of 17 years, the volunteer service was based at Shepherds Hill Cottage. But after the roof was torn off in the 2015 Super Storm, it has been bounced around temporary facilities ever since.
Finally, work has officially begun on a new $2-million base which is expected to be finished by April next year.
Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commander Todd Andrews said it will be great for the volunteers, with ample space to work and train and all the latest equipment.
“It’s going to bring the rescue crew and the radio team together, it’ll have a state-of-the-art rescue and radio rooms and a large garage and storage facility.”
Newcastle’s long-serving Unit Commander, Ron Calman OAM said he and his crew cannot wait to get into their new home.
“I’m so overwhelmed at having the base built here, and the members are ecstatic because we’ve had a bit of a rough trot since losing the roof at Shepherds Hill,” Mr Calman said.
The local unit is currently operating out of Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club at Wickham.
“The facilities there are excellent also, it’s just that we’re going into a very updated premises and it is going to be our own,” Mr Calman said.
“The new building will be so handy… We could maybe have another boat for the river with excellent amenities for training coxswains plus leading crew.”
It wasn’t the only special occasion the unit marked today, with a new vessel the NC-30 – or the ‘Ron Calman’ after Newcastle’s veteran local commander – commissioned as well.
Chipping in with the NSW Government, the local unit helped cover the cost of the $565,000 rescue boat which is outfitted with the latest electronic navigation and communications equipment as well as a pair of 300hp Suzuki engines.
The 10-meter long Yamba Welding & Engineering-built vessel can comfortably fit up to ten people and is capable of cruising at 25-knots with a maximum top speed of 40-knots.
“It’s a great vessel and has already proved it’s value across the state,” MRNSW Deputy Commander Todd Andrews said.
“It’s speed and maneuverability has enabled our crews to be able to get to rescues in a safe and also timely fashion.”
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Taylor Martin was in town for the ceremony and said it will be a great asset.
“Not only for [the] organisation but of course for the whole community across Newcastle and the broader Hunter region,” he said.