A ride in a NSW Water Police vessel was the last thing 11 year old Coffs Harbour mates Ryan Matthews and Riley Smiles expected when they set off with their fathers for a days boating off of Sydney’s Northern beaches last week.
The 41’ steel hulled MV Intrepid was fishing approximately 7.5kms from Sydney’s famous North Head when the skipper noticed smoke billowing from the vessel’s engine compartment. Realising the boat was now listing severely and they were in serious trouble, the decision was made to active their GME MT400 Emergency Beacon and abandon ship, taking an Esky cooler for additional floatation, the two fathers and sons entered the water at around 8.30am. Within minutes the recently purchased Intrepid sank in around 65 metres of water.
The EPIRB’s signal was detected by the orbiting COSPAS SARSAT satellites with the position and identification of the distressed crew relayed to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in Canberra, who in turn scrambled search and rescue services.
Within 45 minutes of the GME MT400 activation, a Westpac Life Saver Rescue helicopter piloted by Peter Yates located the EPIRBs homing signal and flew directly to the group still clinging to the Esky and holding their EPIRB. Subsequently the rescue crew dropped an inflatable life raft allowing the fathers and sons to clamber aboard.
GPS coordinates of the life raft’s position were transmitted to the police vessel WP34 2257 which picked up the survivors transferred them to the Water Police Sydney HQ at Balmain where they were treated for minor injuries by paramedics.
Detective Superintendent Mark Hutchings, of the Marine Area Command, commended the presence of mind and actions of the vessel’s owner Scott Smiles, also highlighting the importance of the GME EPIRB in the rescue, adding that having a registered EPIRB is mandatory, and without one, emergency services could have taken hours or even days to find the distressed parties.
GME has been designing and manufacturing EPIRBs in Australia for over 30 years; during this time literally thousands of lives have been saved in Australia and around the world.