NSW Marine Rescue Shellharbour took delivery of a brand new search and rescue boat on Thursday at Wollongong Harbour.
‘‘It’s a magnificent boat,’’ said unit commander of Shellharbour Peter Keft.
‘‘Our prior craft have been fishing boats, which have then been converted, whereas this a fully fitted, purpose-built search and rescue boat.’’
Costing about $400,000, the new 10 metres Naiad came equipped with search navigation, radar and night vision.
With a top speed of 40 knots and a range of 15 nautical miles, the Naiad will allow the crew to travel further and faster than they have before.
‘‘Timing is one of the most important factors in search and rescue,’’ Mr Keft said. ‘‘When responding to someone in distress, the quicker we can arrive at the scene, the better chance we have of helping them.’’
The staff at NSW Marine Rescue are all volunteers, and Mr Keft is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
‘‘I can get a call at any time, day or night. If it’s late, I have to ring around to get a crew together. But I love it. We all enjoy getting out and doing our bit for the community.’’
Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson said the new boat would be a very welcome addition.
‘‘They are an amazing bunch of people,’’ she said. ‘‘They do an incredible job without any payment. Volunteers such as these guys are the backbone of our community.’’