Rescue agencies foster friendship

Published on LEUT Aaron Cochrane (author), LSCIS Wesley Botten (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Coonawarra

HMAS Launceston hosted members from the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) Australia and Surf Life Saving Northern Territory (SLSNT), while alongside at HMAS Coonawarra, Darwin. 

From left: Mr Cameron Heathwood (RCC); Mr Dion Curtis, RANR (RCC), Mr Tony Snelling (CEO SLSNT); Mr Chris Duryea (RCC); Commanding Officer Attack Two, Lieutenant Commander Steven Noakes; Mr Sam Edwards (SLSNT); Lieutenant Aaron Cochrane. (photo: LSCIS Wesley Botten)
HMAS Launceston hosted members from the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) Australia and Surf Life Saving Northern Territory (SLSNT), while alongside at HMAS Coonawarra, Darwin. From left: Mr Cameron Heathwood (RCC); Mr Dion Curtis, RANR (RCC), Mr Tony Snelling (CEO SLSNT); Mr Chris Duryea (RCC); Commanding Officer Attack Two, Lieutenant Commander Steven Noakes; Mr Sam Edwards (SLSNT); Lieutenant Aaron Cochrane.

Navy is regularly called upon to support search and rescue activities across Australia, and it is vital that all organisations involved understand each other's capabilities.

To assist in that cooperation and understanding, senior executives from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) and Surf Life Saving Northern Territory were invited to tour Navy assets, facilities and capabilities in Darwin in early October.

Armidale Class Patrol Boat crew Attack Two hosted a familiarisation afternoon on board HMAS Launceston to foster greater appreciation and co-operation between the key search and rescue agencies operating in Australia’s northern maritime environment.

The visit took place while Launceston was alongside HMAS Coonawarra for logistics and resupply between Operation RESOLUTE patrols.

Surf Life Saving Northern Territory Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tony Snelling, said the visit was a good opportunity for all three agencies to meet and discuss their capabilities.

“Surf Life Saving Northern Territory maintains a 24/7 sea capable team including an offshore rescue boat, inflatable rescue boats and several rescue jet skis and a closed radio network which can provide a response to incidents within Darwin’s coastal waters,” he said.

“We certainly gained an appreciation for what the Navy and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre do together and they in turn were interested to hear about our coastal rescue capabilities."

A Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve, Mr Dion Curtis, is a Maritime Search and Rescue Officer with RCC and a former Commanding Officer of Attack Two, also described the familiarisation tour as helpful in gaining an appreciation of maritime surface surveillance and capability.

“Two of my colleagues here today are aviators so the chance to see the HMAS Launceston up close and chat with the crew was very helpful,” he said.

“It gave them a greater understanding of our maritime assets as well as the challenges faced working within the maritime environment."

The group were in Darwin for a search and rescue training workshop, which also included attendees from Headquarters Northern Command, Australian Federal Police, Northern Territory Police, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Northern Territory Emergency Services, the Northern Territory Government, St John Ambulance, National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, Aero Rescue and Careflight, focussed on an aviation disaster scenario within the RESOLUTE area of operations.