FOUR years after being established, the Marine Rescue NSW (MRNSW) Moama base and its rescue vessel will finally be commissioned.
Unit commander Ken Bambling said the 15-member unit had been together for about five years and had been operating from its Perricoota Rd base for nearly four.
‘‘We hit the ground running when we started so it has never been commissioned,’’ he said.
The Moama rescue service, which covers an area from Albury to Mildura, was set up after research found there were more drownings in the Murray River than any other NSW waterway.
‘‘We can be very busy and a lot of our work is searching for missing people,’’ Mr Bambling said.
‘‘We have already had multiple drownings since the start of the year.
‘‘Unfortunately if we’re called out for a search, it’s rarely a positive result.’’
Mr Bambling said the unit’s role was primarily search and rescue, supporting police divers and towbacks.
‘‘We are tasked by NSW Police in an emergency situation,’’ he said.
‘‘Our secondary role is public education and we do boat licence courses as well.’’
MRNSW receives financial support from the NSW Government and boating community through a levy on recreational boat licences and registrations but still relies on its volunteers’ dedicated fundraising efforts to help fund its vital safety services.
The Moama unit’s operating costs range between $10,000 to $15,000 a year and raises money through sausage sizzles and raffles.
At the moment, it is raising money for a new vessel which will be able to get into more narrow and shallow areas.
Mr Bambling said the unit was always looking for new members.
‘‘You don’t need any qualifications. It’s all on-the-job training provided by the organisation,’’ he said.
Anyone interested in more can email [email protected]