WEEKEND UPDATE: A MARINE Rescue NSW vessel was vandalised overnight prompting police and the rescue service to condemn the "mindless" actions.
Marine Rescue commissioner Stacey Tannos said an estimated $50,000 in damage was caused to the service's new Wooli vessel in what is the start of the boating season.
She said the $345,000 offshore rescue rescue vessel is one of four gathered at Coffs Harbour this weekend for a multi-agency search and rescue exercise.
A NSW Fisheries boat and the NSW Police Force vessel Fearless also were targeted by the vandals.
The actions had also affected some of the exercises planned for the weekend
“Sometime between 4.30pm yesterday and 7am today some mindless fool has slashed the sponsons – the boat’s airfilled buoyancy tubes – all the way around the vessel with something like a Stanley knife,” Commissioner Tannos said.
“Members of Marine Rescue NSW are all volunteers. They give their time to protect the community by helping boaters in trouble on the water.
“They deserve nothing but our thanks and support but this vandalism is just a slap in the face in return for their selfless commitment.”
The Wooli vessel, which was only delivered at Easter, is now off the water for major repairs at the start of the peak summer boating season.
“We have already been in touch with the boat’s builder, Yamba Welding & Engineering, who will look at a temporary fix to try to get the boat on the water as soon as possible while permanent replacement tubes are sourced,” Commissioner Tannos said.
Up to 50 Marine Rescue volunteers from the Wooli, Woolgoolga, Coffs Harbour, Nambucca, Trail Bay, Port Macquarie, Camden Have, Crowdy Harrington and Forster-Tuncurry Marine Rescue units were attending the two-day event, which started with desktop exercises yesterday.
A major simulated search and rescue of “missing persons” (rescue dummies) was meant to take place on the water and Solitary Island today but as a result of the vandalism, only a limited exercise could be mounted.