HMAS Gascoyne to the rescue

Published on SBLT Tracy Sheddan (author), ABML S Humphris (photographer)

Location(s): Broken Bay, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Gascoyne (M85), Search and Rescue (SAR)

Rescue spot at Broken Bay. (photo: ABML S. Humphris)
Rescue spot at Broken Bay.

Royal Australian Navy Mine Hunter Coastal HMAS Gascoyne recently assisted the New South Wales (NSW) Police in rescuing stranded fishermen in Broken Bay, 50km north of Sydney. Late in the night of 15 Apr 14, Gascoyne had been hosting Mine Warfare specialist training for an Intermediate Mine Warfare Course when a request for assistance was received.

During the evening, NSW Water Police, who were conducting a routine patrol in the area, contacted Gascoyne requesting assistance from the ship’s sea-boat to help transfer two fishermen whose boat had been washed ashore within the bay.

A change in weather had caught the two fishermen by surprise, with wet and squally conditions washing their boat onto rocks at Flint and Steel Point. Luckily no one appeared to be injured, however, due to the depth of water and proximity of rocks, the police vessel was unable to safely attempt a rescue.

Within minutes of the request, Gascoyne’s dive boat, crewed by Leading Seaman (LS) Matthew Roffe, LS Joel Dawe, and Able Seaman (AB) David Bashford, were on their way to the scene. Battling driving rain and strong winds, the dive boat rendezvoused with Water Police where a policeman was transferred for the short transit to the stricken vessel’s location.

Arriving on the scene, the Coxswain carefully weighed options, and was able to land the police officer with AB Bashford to a beach adjacent to the rocks. After checking the stricken couple for injuries, AB Bashford aided the man and an elderly woman back to the dive boat, much to the grateful thanks from both.

Within 45 minutes, both fishermen were transferred ashore by Water Police and Gascoyne had recovered its dive boat and personnel.

Commanding Officer, LCDR Aaron Cox, RAN said “Gascoyne’s professionalism and quick reaction time resulted in an excellent outcome. It appears we were in the right place at the right time to assist the Water Police with this tasking.”