Five Tasmanian Police officers will be recognised for their outstanding contribution to search and rescue tonight at this year’s Australian Search and Rescue Awards in Sydney. Due to the high calibre of nominations in this year's Awards, the National Search and Rescue Council will also present a Commendation Award to the crew of the Navy Seahawk helicopter Tiger 74 from Nowra’s 816 Squadron.
Since 1996, the National Search and Rescue Council, which is made up of representatives from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), Australian Defence Force and state and territory police services, has presented the Australian Search and Rescue Award to those who have made a significant contribution to Australia’s search and rescue ability or saving of a human life.
The Navy Seahawk crew are being recognised for their role in rescuing a French couple Bernard and Dominique Lorencea after their yacht sank off the New South Wales coast on 29 September 2013.
Search and rescue authorities were alerted that the couple were in distress after they managed to contact New South Wales Police via a satellite phone.
AMSA was requested to assist and tasked its search and rescue Dornier aircraft to a location more than 700km east of Eden, issued a broadcast to shipping and requested military assistance.
The Dornier aircraft was able drop survival equipment to the couple, including a life raft. The couple were winched from the life raft by the Navy Seahawk helicopter at the limit of its endurance after their yacht eventually capsized.
The Commendation Award recipients are Tiger 74 crew members Lieutenant Commander Dave O’Toole, Lieutenant Phil Rhodes, Petty Officer Colin McCallum and Leading Seaman Blake Woolard.
AMSA’s Emergency Response General Manager and Chairman of the National Search and Rescue Council, John Young, commended all the award recipients on their expertise as search and rescue professionals.
“In both incidents, these men employed their skills and talent to overcome extremely adverse weather conditions which resulted in the saving of five lives”, Mr Young said.
“The National Search and Rescue Council are proud to be able to recognise these men through the Australian Search and Rescue Award. It is an example of Australia’s collaborative search and rescue arrangement working effectively for the Australian community.
“I’d also like to thank all the men and women involved in search and rescue across the country for their bravery and commend them for their contribution to saving lives,” he said.
Further details regarding the Award winners is available in the AMSA Media Release which can be downloaded from the AMSA Newsroom at http://www.amsa.gov.au/media/documents/021014_MediaRelease_AustralianSARawardwinners.pdf.