Marine Search and Rescue

About Marine Search and Rescue

Marine Search and Rescue (MSAR) units across the state play an extremely important role in the safety of boaters around Victoria's coastline, out at sea, and in many of our inland waterways.

In 2018, they responded to well over 1400 emergency call-outs from Victorians in need of assistance.

MSAR rescue crews are made up entirely of dedicated volunteers, who are trained to national rescue standards. They are often called upon to locate and provide emergency assistance to sinking vessels, vessels with flat batteries and other mechanical problems, or vessels that have run aground. When emergencies arise, MSAR units may also be called upon to perform medical evacuation responses

MSAR is made up of over 800 volunteers comprising:

  • 19 Australia Volunteer Coast Guard flotillas
  • 7 Independent MSAR units
  • 4 Life Saving Victoria clubs
  • 1 State Emergency Service unit

Interested in becoming a Marine Search and Rescue Volunteer?

Please come on board. If you are over the age of 16 and interested in becoming a Marine Search and Rescue Volunteer, please contact (External link) and let us know your name and location. 

    There is also a raft of State Emergency Service units across the state that respond to a significant amount of inland marine incidents and responses, particularly on waterways where there is no dedicated service.


    In February 2016, the Victorian Government committed to a high-level reform plan to better support the crucial service provided by the Marine Search and Rescue sector. This decision followed the 2014 Parliamentary Inquiry into Marine Rescue Services in Victoria, which found that increased governance and regulation would be beneficial in supporting a more effective service.

    In December 2017, the Victorian Government announced that MSAR flotillas will receive $11.3 million over a two year period to improve their service delivery.

    Part of the Government’s response involved the establishment of an MSAR Office within EMV to engage the sector, establish more appropriate governance arrangements, and manage operational command systems and accreditation processes. This will help MSAR units to identify future training, equipment and funding needs.

    A Marine Search and Rescue Working Group was established in 2016 to develop the overarching strategy for the sector, as well as manage daily operations on reform delivery.

    A strategic decision-making body called the MSAR Reform Implementation Board was also established to oversee initial implementation of proposed reforms. The Reform Implementation Board is guided by the advice of the MSAR Working Group and incudes:

    • The Emergency Management Commissioner (Chair)
    • Victoria Police
    • Transport Safety Victoria
    • Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
    • Head of the MSAR Office within EMV
    • Two volunteer advisors comprising one from the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard and one representing the independent MSAR units

    Three other committees have also been established to support the reform program including: 

    • the MSAR Finance and Insurance Project Group 
    • the MSAR Vessel, Risk and Capability Project Group 
    • the MSAR Training and Assessment Project Group 

    Marine Search and Rescue News

    To keep up to date with the latest information please subscribe to the MSAR eNews. (External link)  

    The MSAR eNews is published periodically. If you have any stories or photos to add to the newsletter you can email them to (External link).



    MSAR Profiles: Meet some of the people behind the scenes

    Harry Ferrier

    Coast Guard Marlo Commander has been involved in marine search and rescue for over 30 years.

    He speaks about his passion for the sea. To read his story click here (External link).


    Australian Volunteer Coast Guard St Kilda

    St Kilda Coast Guard is a busy outfit with 65 volunteers responding to incidents and rescues. 

    Hit the play button to hear more about what they do.

    Southern Peninsula Rescue Squad