Marine Rescue NSW is the state’s official volunteer marine rescue service, committed to saving lives on the water. The Middle Harbour unit of MRNSW has protected boaters on Middle Harbour, Sydney Harbour and the adjacent coastline for decades since commencing operations as a Division of the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol. Marine Rescue NSW formed on July 1, 2009, bringing together members of the RVCP, Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association and NSW Volunteer Rescue Association’s marine fleet into a single marine rescue service. Today, MRNSW is the marine equivalent of land-based volunteer agencies such as the NSW Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service.
The NSW Police Force is responsible for the coordination of rescue operations on both land and water in NSW. Police Marine Area Command tasks Marine Rescue Middle Harbour to assist recreational boaters. Most callouts stem from mechanical breakdowns or electrical failures, for which we provide jump-start assistance or tow the disabled vessel and her crew to safety. We also conduct coastal search and rescue operations and provide a rapid response to life-threatening emergencies ranging from vessels sinking or burning to medical incidents. We are equipped to provide first aid and resuscitation and work closely with NSW Ambulance to transport paramedics to accident scenes inaccessible by road and to provide medivac services for Sydney Harbour.
We also work with NSW Roads and Maritime Services and other agencies and boating and community organisations to ensure the safety of spectators and participants in aquatic events. These include the New Year’s Eve and Australia Day celebrations, start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, Kayak for Kids, Canoe Classic, Balmoral Swim and numerous other community and fundraising events throughout the year.
All members of Marine Rescue Middle Harbour are unpaid volunteers, who each give more than 240 hours of their time per year. Our volunteers come from all over Sydney and various trades and professions. To achieve and maintain rescue crew accreditation, all members undertake ongoing training and assessment. Skippers and crew must achieve the same level of competency required to work on commercial vessels, as well as additional qualifications in emergency response and advanced resuscitation. Maintaining accreditation requires constant on-water training and is our primary focus between responding to calls for assistance.
Middle Harbour 30 is Marine Rescue Middle Harbour’s primary rescue vessel, with the capability to operate up to 30 nautical miles offshore. Middle Harbour 30 is fitted with equipment to monitor all marine radio bands and frequencies, as well as radio direction-finding equipment for locating EPIRBs and Personal Locator Beacons. Middle Harbour 30 carries an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) for cardiac emergencies and medical oxygen for responding to diving emergencies and general first aid situations.A remote controlled infra-red camera and radar give Middle Harbour 30 the ability to search for distressed vessels or people in the water, even in total darkness.
Unlike most emergency services, MRNSW is not a Government agency but an independent not-for-profit organisation. We are grateful for the ongoing financial support of the NSW Government and members of the boating community, who, in recognition of the services we provide, contribute to MRNSW through an annual levy on their boat licence and registration fees. The Middle Harbour Unit needs to raise about $120,000 every year to maintain our vessels, base and equipment and provide Search and Rescue services and other assistance for boaters on Sydney Harbour, Middle Harbour and the adjacent offshore waters. Like all Marine Rescue Units, the Middle Harbour Unit receives an annual corporate budget allocation that covers about 44% of our yearly funding requirements. We receive about 13% of our funding in donations from the people we assist and our members raise the remaining 43% with the help of the community through fundraising initiatives such as raffles and sausage sizzles.