Night search and rescue training a success in Queenscliff

29 April 2019

Over 30 Marine Search and Rescue (MSAR) volunteers took part in a training exercise at Queenscliff on the weekend.

Coast Guard Werribee, Geelong and Queenscliff, as well as Southern Peninsula Rescue Squad, Coast Watch Ocean Grove and Torquay Marine Rescue took part in the exercise, which tested the skills of marine search and rescue teams in a variety of conditions.  

Exercise controller Ben Penrose said there were plenty of benefits to the training, which gave participants an opportunity to practice and learn from a real life scenario.

“The exercise aimed to expose volunteers to larger scale search operations in night conditions, and the processes involved in preparing vessels and crew for a marine search operation,” he said. 

“It also gave the different search and rescue units a chance to work together, as we know interoperability is critical when it comes to a scenario such as the one the participants encountered.

“It was really well received by the volunteers.”

Participants were tasked with finding and safely retrieving two people missing from a fishing trip, with limited information on their whereabouts.

Crews were required to allocate specific roles, establish a navigation plan and use marine search techniques to find the missing people.

The nature of the exercise tested participants’ search skills in twilight and night conditions, as well as in varying water depths. Volunteers also gained practical experience at applying computerised search modelling from Victoria Police, something they were briefed on prior to the exercise.

“They were on the water searching in the dark for about three hours” Ben said.

“Their search areas involved multiple navigation complexities - operating at night, in close proximity to shallow water, reefs and other hazards.

“Some of the main learnings centred on communication processes, and the challenges of search planning and navigating at night. It was really successful and we’re looking forward to the next one”.

This was the first in a series of exercises planned by EMV’s MSAR office. The MSAR office would like to thank Queenscliff Volunteer Coast Guard for making their facilities available as an exercise base.