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Shipwrecks and sea rescue: Lifeboat service in South Australia - abandoned

Lifeboat service abandoned

Finally in the South Australian Harbors Board annual report for 1930/31 (SAPP 24 of 1931), the Board reported the closure of the life boat service: 'During the year, pressed by the urgent necessity to reduce expenditure, and in view of the fact that the increase in the size of shipping and the general use of wireless had reduced the practical utility of these stations, the Board decided to abandon the various life saving services and shelter huts maintained on the coast of the state. Rocket stations established at 15 depots were abolished, and the lifeboats at Port MacDonnell, Beachport and Victor Harbor were withdrawn from commission. The Board desires to record its appreciation of the services given for many years by the members of both rocket and lifeboat crews.'

Marine Rescue today

Today marine rescue in South Australia is provided by a number of volunteer organisations.  The State Emergency Service Volunteer Marine Rescue provides a liaison service to the accredited groups:

  • Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Patrol Inc.
  • SA Sea Rescue Squadron Inc.
  • Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol Inc.
  • Victor Harbor - Goolwa Sea Rescue Squadron Inc.
  • Air-Sea Rescue - Whyalla Squadron Inc.
  • Air-Sea Rescue - Cowell Squadron Inc.
  • State Emergency Service.

The South Australian Sea Rescue Squadron is the oldest of these groups: formed on 9 May 1960, it initially operated without radio communications.  This was quickly remedied, and in 1965 the Squadron also acquired a Mobile Field Commad Unit when a local radio station donated a caravan.  It now operates from up-to-date headquarters at Adelaide Shores (West Beach), and from 1977 was able to finance and operate its own Sea Rescue One (Prior to this privately owned and maintained craft were used and still are, to supplement the capabilities of the official boat.)  The newest vessel, acquired in 2003 is 7.4 metres long with a 200 hp turbo charged motor.  The Squadron also maintains a craft at O'Sullivan's Beach marina, at Edithburgh, Wirrina Cove and at Wallaroo.

The Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association was established in South Australia in late 1961. The headquarters are at North Haven and there is a UHF Repeater station at Myponga to enable radio communications. Flotillas operate from North Haven, O'Sullivans Beach, Port Augusta, Port Vincent and Kingscote.

The Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol (S.A. Division was established in 1984, operating from Yorke Peninsula. Its rescue craft is based at Port Victoria, but members' own boats are located around the coast. Coastal Patrol operates from Cape Elizabeth on western Yorke Peninsula to Port Moorowie on the foot of the peninsula. Radio bases are spread along the 250 kilometres of coast it covers.

Nationally, marine rescue is coordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in Canberra. The Rescue Coordination Centre coordinates both maritime and aviation search and rescue. It also manages the distress beacon detection system. This system has taken much of 'the search out of search and rescue', but without the swift response of the volunteer rescue squadrons, many sailors would be lost

Websites:

Australian Maritime Safety Authority:  Search and rescue

South Australian Sea Rescue Squadron Inc

Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association Inc

SES Rescue:  Volunteer Marine Rescue

Marine Rescue Services in South Australia

Appeal for a new boat
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Change to the lifesaving service
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Launch of the Lady Daly
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Lifeboat regulations
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Lifeboat shed at Beachport, South Australia
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Lifeboats for Glenelg or Semaphore
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Life-saving appliances in South Australia
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Life-saving rocket apparatus in action on a beach
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New life-boat at Port MacDonnell, South Australia
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Our lifeboat service
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Our lifeboat system
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The 'City of Adelaide' life-boat
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