PORT Welshpool Coast Guard is to get a larger patrol boat, thanks to the Victorian Government approving the transfer of a former police vessel.
Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien visited Port Welshpool with Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan last Friday to announce the good news to local coast guard volunteers.
“Victoria Police has approved the transfer of the Water Police 40-foot Noosa Cat vessel, which until recently was in use at Paynesville, to Port Welshpool Coast Guard which I know is very welcome news to the coast guard’s members and the boating public that utilise the water ways,” Mr O’Brien said.
“This vessel is bigger and better equipped to handle the rough seas of Bass Strait and around Wilsons Promontory than the flotilla’s current boat which will improve the capacity of the coast guard to service a wider area than it can now.
“After recently visiting the Port Welshpool Coast Guard facility it was obvious to me government assistance was needed to improve facilities and equipment and this new patrol boat is a great start.”
The coast guard has had its current 23-foot vessel for about twelve years.
Mr Ryan said the Port Welshpool Coast Guard provided a valuable volunteer service.
“The Port Welshpool flotilla services the area around Corner Inlet and down to Wilsons Promontory, an area popular with fishermen and boaters and one that is subject to poor weather and other hazards.
“These volunteers do a fantastic job protecting and rescuing people in our coastal waters and the work they do is greatly valued. I’m confident their job will be made a little easier with the gift of this new patrol boat,” Mr Ryan said.
Port Welshpool Coast Guard flotilla commander Rocco Maruzza said he was extremely pleased to accept the vessel, which should be in place sometime this summer. He said the 40-foot Noosa Cat would significantly strengthen the ability of the coast guard to perform search and rescue operations in adverse weather conditions, increase the area of operational coverage and reduce response times to emergency call-outs.
“The assignment of this vessel to the Port Welshpool flotilla now makes the Corner Inlet and Wilsons Promontory area a safer region, not only for the boating community, but also for kayakers and hikers alike,” he said.
Mr Maruzza thanked Mr Ryan, Mr O’Brien, Police and Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells and the Victorian Government for gifting the vessel to Port Welshpool Coast Guard. He singled out for special mention Ray Campbell (National Commodore), Chris Newman (Gippsland Squadron Commodore) and Alan Rice (Gippsland Water Police) for working together to enable the transfer of the vessel.
“The acquisition of this vessel will provide a major shot in the arm for Port Welshpool Coast Guard,” he said.