May 2017
Coastal communication in the line of fire


This complimentary letter was published in the May edition of Afloat and is reproduced as it appeared with the editor's permission.


Jim Staples letter 'Coastal communication' (Afloat Apr'17) regarding the poor amd confused radio coverage he has experienced has become the norm on the South Coat of NSW.

Mr Tannos's reply 'In the line of fire' repeats the standard response:We are not responsible. We only undertake blah blah functions. Give us specific detail and we will investigate; AND stop criticising us as we are only volunteers.

Last year Marine Rescue NSW received $6 million from boaters through your "voluntary contribution" for recreational boat licences and a further$1.6 million in NSW Government grants.

That is a lot of money over the past six years. Since the formation of Marine Rescue you have stashed away almost $10 million in "cash and other cash equivalents" so you have more than sufficient of our boating money to invest in HF infrastructure and adequate VHF coverage plus the procedures and training for those operating the system and not only during business hours.

Furthermore your constitution clearly states "provide a volunteer marine search and rescue service and a radio safety service to persons and vessels operating within NSW coastal environments, estuaries, rivers and lakes".

You are an accredited training organisation, so you again benefit from this status. Train your volunteers to do the job that the boating public expects and stop using the well worn excuses for your inadequacies.

There is no transparency or accountability of the operations of Marine Rescue just a single annual marketing document titled Financial Statement and Report. We get more operational detail from other government departments.

Take a business class trip to Tasmania and look at Tas Maritime Radio operations. They cover the whole of Tasmania and adjacent waters on HFand VHF through I believe a single operator from a single operations desk. They don't use the unreliable internet for critical links such as your radio-over-IP and have invested in their own state of the art equipment and strategic locations all done by volunteers.

Their people are trained and know the coast and available resources if things go wrong. They are recognised for excellent service.

Having just returned to NSW from a few months sailing in Tasmania I can say they do an outstanding job cheerfully, effectively and competently. The only incident was a lost vessel from the Marine Rescue system and Marine Rescue's inability to contact them using their South Coast VHF radio network. Thankfully we solved the problem using the HF frequency of Tas Maritime Radio.

As has been previously stated in these pages when will Marine Rescue start to do their job effectively? Maybe only when someone is lost at sea due to their inability to contact Marine Rescue via radio ... but of course their calls for help would go unanswered.

Harry Watson Smith,
Malua Bay, NSW.