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Update from Marine Rescue Queensland

A new chapter for Mackay Marine Rescue

Friday 12 April was a day of pride and celebration for the Mackay community, especially for Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) Mackay, with the official launch of MR31—a new 7.5m NAIAD hard-collared rigid rescue vessel.

Delivered as part of the government’s $22.3 million vessel replacement program, which will see up to 10 new rescue vessels along Queensland’s coastline by the end of 2024, MR31 is one of three contingency vessels that will be located along the state’s coastline to be made available when extra vessels are needed in times of emergency, disaster or when a unit’s primary vessel is out of action.

On the day, over 70 guests, including MPs and representatives from various emergency and safety services, joined in the festivities which were led by QPS Chaplain Pastor Leighton Johannesen and Mal McLean, who has dedicated 20 years to VMR Mackay and currently serves as Vice President.

The occasion’s significance was acknowledged through traditional Indigenous and maritime ceremonies and attendees were reminded of Mackay’s deep connections to the local waterways, with a smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country conducted by Uncle Philip Kemp. The official transition of responsibility and leadership for the MR31 vessel to VMR Mackay was then marked by Marine Rescue Queensland (MRQ)’s Chief Officer designate, Mr. Tony Wulff, presenting a ceremonial boat paddle to VMR Mackay’s President, Russell McLennan.

The highlight of the day saw Mal and his wife Sharon perform the traditional vessel christening by pouring champagne over its bow—an act symbolising good luck and safe travels at sea.

As the formalities concluded, Russell McLennan took a moment to thank everyone who has supported VMR Mackay over the years. Guests were then invited to step aboard the MR31 for a safety walkthrough followed by a demonstration run into Mackay Harbour.

The new vessel is a beacon of hope and safety for the Mackay region ensuring that our volunteers have the best tools at hand to keep our waters safe. At the event, the Honourable Mark Ryan MP, Minister for Police and Community Safety, acknowledged the dedication of all marine rescue volunteers and expressed his gratitude towards VMR Mackay volunteers for their unwavering commitment to keeping people safe on the water, which was highlighted during recent activations in the region.

Volunteer spotlight: Meet Ian Sutton from QF17 Tin Can Bay

A spotlight on the amazing volunteers of VMRAQ and the AVCGA. This month, we meet Ian Sutton, a 30-year member of QF17 Tin Can Bay. Click the image below to meet Ian – what an inspirational marine rescue volunteer!

New vessels for Cairns and Rockhampton

The latest jewels in Queensland’s marine rescue fleet — two 7.5m hard collared rescue beauties — arrived at their new homes, QF9 Cairns and QF19 Rockhampton, this month.

Flotilla volunteers participated in vessel sea trials in the lead-up to delivery, and we’re excited that local crews have been inducted and trained on the new vessels.

CS31 is a permanent vessel for Cairns, now operational and supporting marine rescue activities in the region.

MR32 is a contingency vessel, based in Rockhampton, providing additional support to central Queensland when needed in times of emergency, disaster, when extra capacity is required, or when a unit’s primary vessel is out of action. MR32 has already proven its value having supported several critical marine search and rescue operations since becoming operational in late February 2024.

The Queensland Government’s vessel replacement program is supporting volunteers across the state, delivering new marine search and rescue vessels to help keep people safe on our waters.

The final voyage: MRQ ashes ceremonies confirmed

MRQ has confirmed that their units will continue the solemn service of scattering ashes at sea.

This tradition, long upheld by the dedicated members of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association (AVCGA) and Volunteer Marine Rescue Association of Queensland (VMRAQ), offers a meaningful way for community members to honour their loved ones especially in the services of maritime operations and search and rescue.

More information about how to deliver this important community service will be provided as flotillas and squadrons join MRQ.

They say that “We are deeply honoured to confirm MRQ’s commitment to this long-held tradition.”

More information about how to deliver this important community service will be provided as flotillas and squadrons join MRQ.

MRQ Unit structure unveiled

MRQ have announce that, after extensive consultation via the Reference Group and endorsement by the Marine Rescue Queensland Implementation Working Group, the Marine Rescue Queensland unit structure is approved.

All executive positions—those in the blue boxes above—will be elected, via an Expression of Interest process and unit elections.

You’ve told us not all units are alike; some have no shortage of volunteers putting their hands up to help run units, while others operate a much leaner ship!

In response, MRQ units with smaller numbers of volunteers will have the flexibility to combine executive roles where required (ie. the same person in more than one the blue box).

Similarly, larger units may appoint additional people to deliver the responsibilities in the yellow boxes under each Coordinator role. These roles do not form part of the Executive Committee.

Operation Storm the Beach

On Sunday 24 March VMR Jacobs Well, VMR Southport and QF1 Southport, along with members of the MRIP team, were invited along to the disaster management exercise ‘Operation Storm the Beach’ hosted by South Coast Area, Rural Fire Service (RFS).

The exercise objective was to urgently transport 50 RFS and State Emergency Service (SES) members with equipment across to South Stradbroke Island within 2.5 hours, to assist their colleagues fighting a running vegetation fire.

Even with the weather on the day proving challenging, VMR and AVCGA volunteers demonstrated impressive collaboration – working closely to successfully get the RFS and SES crews and their equipment safely delivered and deployed to three sectors on the island.

The proactive work of the Disaster and Emergency Management Unit from City of Gold Coast was evident through the day with volunteers from VMR Jacobs Well, VMR Southport and QF1 Southport already across disaster management arrangements with their regular involvement in the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG).

The debrief at the Wasp Creek Rural Fire Brigade provided opportunity to hear from all agencies that attended, what worked well, what didn’t and what improvements could be made for the next event.  The volunteers involved provided critical intel and information that will ensure a safe and quick response should anything like this occur on the island in the future.

Disclaimer: Marine Rescue Queensland will not exist until the commencement by proclamation of the Marine Rescue Queensland Act.

This information originated from Queensland Police Service, Queensland Police Service, 200 Roma Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Australia