Detectives from Marine Area Command in Coffs Harbour are opening an investigation into a boat sinking and near drowning of three men off the Port Macquarie coastline.
At 1am on April 14, a 10 metre boat collided with a currently unknown object, approximately three nautical miles off the coast.
A joint operation between Marine Rescue Port Macquarie, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and local ambulance officers was activated to rescue three men aged 30, 33 and 67.
Coordinator of Coffs Harbour Water Police, Don Stewart, said an investigation will take place over the coming weeks.
"Initial inquiries are starting and detectives from Marine Area Command will conduct an investigation," Mr Stewart said.
"The three injured men who were on board the craft are currently unable to speak to us due to the severity of their injuries but we will be talking to them in due time."
On April 14, the 30-year-old man with spinal injuries was airlifted to the Royal North Shore Hospital in a stable condition for further treatment.
Later in the day the 67-year-old man was airlifted to John Hunter Hospital while the 33-year-old was admitted for surgery at Port Macquarie Base Hospital.
Marine Rescue Port Macquarie unit commander Greg Davies said it had been one of the most serious call outs the unit had undertaken.
"In our initial contact the three people on board were reported to have severe injuries including suspected punctured lungs, spinal injury, broken bones, dislocated shoulder and facial injuries," Mr Davies said.
"We were immediately sent out but due to the boat being severely damaged and the injuries of those on board it took nearly an hour for us to locate the men."
Fortunately he said, the experienced fishermen had logged on with Marine Rescue before heading out and did have emergency safety equipment on board.
"They did everything right in terms of logging on with us and having an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) with them," he said.
"But again due to the damage done to the vessel the signal emitted by the EPIRB was weak and we still had issues locating them.
"During the rescue, thousands of dollars worth of Marine Rescue medical equipment went down with the destroyed vessel, including spinal board, AED and our entire trauma kit but equipment is replaceable. People are not."
He said it was a good reminder to all heading out to sea to ensure safety equipment is in easy reach and everyone on board knows how to operate it.
"In this case two of the men were not in a position to operate any safety equipment and the third man was very disorientated.
"It is essential that people remember to log on via Chanel 16 so we can log crucial details including an on board mobile phone number, number of occupants and expected departure and arrival back times and wear lifejackets at all times."
Mr Davies again praised the work of local Marine Rescue volunteers.
"We train for the worst possible situations so when they happen training takes over and that is exactly what happened on Sunday.
"I am incredibly proud of the Marine Rescue volunteers because we really did save lives on the water in this case."
Investigations in to what happened will begin when detectives from Marine Area Command can interview the fishermen.
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