New Port Stephens Marine Rescue vessel named after Shirley Clark

A new Marine Rescue NSW vessel has been commissioned in honour of a woman who has spent 41 years volunteering with the service.

The $667,000 Port Stephens 30 was named in Shirley Clark’s honour on the weekend to recognise her decades of dedication to the Port Stephens unit. 

Shirley volunteered with her husband until he passed away in 2015, now 92-years-old, Shirley is still volunteering with no plans of slowing.

“I really am very, very grateful. 

“I can’t say thank you enough, I’m very very proud and very grateful, I look around and see so many deserving people and I’m here and I’ve got it.

“I can’t believe how lucky I am and I’m very, very grateful, thank you.”

Port Stephens MP Kate Washington said it was an honour to commission the Shirley Clark and recognise the decades of dedication by one of Marine Rescue NSW’s longest serving volunteers. 

“Shirley has a long history of helping keep boaters safe in the region alongside her late husband Kevin. 

“She has given so much to the community and it is wonderful that this new vessel will bear her name while it carries out its vital life-saving work on the region’s waterways.”

Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Darren Schott said the new rescue boat was designed and built to meet demanding local operating conditions and would prove a reassuring presence for locals and visitors alike. 

“With twin 300 horsepower Suzuki outboard engines and a specialist Raymarine suite of maritime navigation equipment, the 10 metre Naiad rescue boat is equipped to perform a variety of operational tasks.” 

“The upgraded search and rescue technology on board including radar, sonar and FLIR night vision has improved our search capability, which is vital to our mission of saving lives on the water. 

“As well as operating on the Karauh River and Port Stephens Bay, this boat can quickly deploy up to 30 nautical miles out to sea to rescue boaters who find themselves in trouble offshore.”

Marine Rescue Port Stephens Unit Commander Ben van der Wijngaart thanked the local community for its generous support of the unit’s fundraising efforts to contribute 20 per cent of the cost of the new vessel.  

He said the new vessel was a significant improvement over the unit’s former 8.5 metre rescue boat. 

“With improved handling and manoeuvrability and greater volunteer comfort, our crews are able to operate more safely for longer periods and in a wider range of weather and sea conditions.” 

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