South coast waters are now safer, following the commissioning of a new South Australian Sea Rescue Squadron (SASRS) boat, which will operate as part of the Wirrina Flotilla.
Attorney-General and Deputy Premier of South Australia, Vickie Chapman commissioned the boat at a special ceremony in Yankalilla on March 27, as the vessel was blessed and commissioned with the pouring of champagne on the bow.
The boat is now a key tool of South Australian Volunteer Marine Rescue's (SA-VMR) and SA Police's search and rescue response on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Locally manufactured by Nautic Star at Lonsdale at a cost of $448,000, the boat was made available through the state government funded Vessel Replacement Program, which also provided a boat trailer.
It replaces a 15-year-old Clayton vessel and is equipped with advanced electronics and navigation systems, and a Forward-Looking Infrared System to assist with searching for people in water, particularly at night.
Ms Chapman received a tour of the vessel by Wirrina Flotilla Senior Skipper Bruce Stark, before she acknowledged SASRS volunteers.
"This is a great outcome and I acknowledge everyone who has worked to bring this project to fruition. I hope this vessel will serve well in the years to come," she said.
Ms Chapman also acknowledged the squadron's history dating to 1960 and Wirrina Flotilla's "driving force" Paul Brown, who received a special mention and had the new boat named in his honour.
SASRS Commodore Frank Miller said the new rescue boat greatly enhanced the Wirrina Flotilla's ability to tackle the needs of the local community, with its areas of operation encompassing waters between Port Willunga and Kangaroo Island, including the Pages.
"Without equipment, the best-intentioned volunteers are limited in what they can achieve. Without trained operators, available and willing, the best equipment cannot be used effectively," Cmdre Miller said.
"To achieve the optimum result takes time, money for equipment, operations and maintenance, training for skippers and crew and support at home."
Cmdre Miller acknowledged the state government assistance in enabling the upgrade of SASRS infrastructure and thanked CE South Australian Fire and Emergency Service Commission, Dominic Lane, and CO SA State Emergency Services, Chris Beattie for their support in the commissioning of the new boat.
Other officials in attendance included Operations Manager SAPOL Water Operations Unit, Senior Sergeant Phil Grear and District of Yankalilla Mayor Glen Rowlands.
Also acknowledged were South Australian Volunteer Marine Rescue manager Darryl Wright, Project Manager and former SASRS Operations Captain Mike Shaw and SASRS volunteer Mel Curyer, who all contributed to the new boat project.
The new boat - the 'Paul Brown' - was assigned call sign Sea Rescue 05 (SR 05) and is now ready to operate within south coast waters.
Paul Brown founded the Wirrina Flotilla and headed the group in 2003 as its first chairman.
A member of more than 20 years, he is a recipient of the Ministerial Commendation for 'Meritorious and Courageous action', Emergency Service Medal, National Medal and Bar, and a Bronze Medal from The Royal Humane Society for his part in a rescue of three people off Rapid Bay in January 2009.