THE largest rescue vessel in the Marine Rescue NSW fleet, Lord Howe 40, was farewelled from Port Macquarie on December 9.
Bagpipes played on the Port Macquarie breakwall while Marine Rescue volunteers and Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams bid the vessel a safe journey to Lord Howe Island.
The boat will be the island's first dedicated rescue vessel with local volunteers to start training on board in coming weeks for the start of official operations early in 2021.
Former 16m police craft, Fearless, has undergone $700,000 in upgrades to have it ready as an operational Marine Rescue vessel.
The boat was refurbished at Birdon Marine's shipyard.
In its past life, the former police vessel took part in the chase of drug trafficking cargo boat, Pong Su in 2003.
Fearless also undertook search and rescue operations in the Bass Strait with the Victoria Police from 2006.
It was decommissioned and sold in 2018 before being acquired by Marine Rescue NSW in February this year.
"Having undergone extensive sea trials here in Port Macquarie, Lord Howe 40 is now ready to begin the next chapter in its life helping keep watch over Lord Howe Island's many local and visiting sailors and boaters," Mrs Williams said.
The refurbishment is part of the NSW government's $37.6 million investment over four years to deliver Marine Rescue NSW 38 new vessels, improve volunteer facilities and continue upgrading the marine radio network.
Marine Rescue NSW fleet manager Kelvin Parkin said comprehensive sea trials had readied the vessel for the 18 hour journey to its new island home.
The base will be the state's first offshore unit located on the island about 568kms east of Port Macquarie.
The unit will provide expanded marine VHF radio coverage around the island and into the surrounding Tasman Sea.
Crews will assist local boaters, watercraft users and transiting vessels through 24 hours a day, seven days a week monitoring of VHF Ch16.
Maritime rescues on the island were previously undertaken by residents, Department of Fisheries, Parks and Maritime or the Ports Authority.
"Today is an exciting day for everyone at Marine Rescue as our first offshore rescue vessel sets off on its maiden voyage in our own livery," he said.
Marine Rescue Lord Howe Island unit commander Jim McFadyen, who spent five years operating on Fearless as a member of the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command, said the new unit's 34 volunteers were eagerly anticipating starting training on board LH40.
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