In hazardous conditions, the rescue crew went to the aid of a stricken vessel just after midnight on Monday.
The crew of BA 30 responded to a report of a stricken 36-foot cruiser on the Richmond River about 12.20am on Monday, taking its two occupants on board. While attempting to tow the stricken vessel off the breakwall, the propellers on the rescue boat fouled and both boats were dragged out to sea and capsized.
The Ballina Jet Rescue crew then rescued two crew members of the cruiser and three crew from the Marine Rescue boat. Because of the bar conditions, the Jet Rescue crew had to land at Shelly Beach, from where the rescued men were taken to hospital.
Marine Rescue Commissioner Stacey Tannos on Tuesday visited two of the volunteers in Lismore Base and Ballina Hospitals before meeting other unit volunteers at the Marine Rescue Ballina watch tower on the Richmond River breakwall.
“This incident, in the dark and in unforgiving conditions with three to four metre seas, illustrates the potential dangers all marine crews face whenever they head out to help someone in distress on the water,” the Commissioner said.
“Our crew was valiant in its efforts to rescue these boaters, who were in real peril in these treacherous conditions. I wanted to come up as soon as possible to check on the welfare of the BA 30 members and assure them that we would provide them every assistance in the aftermath of this incident.
“Counselling is available not only to the crew but also to any other unit members, including those on duty at the time, who feel they need support.”
Commissioner Tannos said he was keen to meet the crew of the 36-foot cruiser if possible and wanted to thank the Ballina Jet Boat crew members for their role in rescuing the five men from the open water.
“We are grateful to the Ballina Jet rescue crew and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, which also responded to this emergency. All the members of the emergency services who responded are to be commended for their skill, bravery and commitment to their community,” he said.
Commissioner Tannos said no further comment on the details of the incident was possible while investigations by the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command, NSW Roads and Maritime Services and MRNSW were ongoing.
The Marine Rescue boat washed up on South Ballina Beach on Tuesday.
Police will recommend bravery awards for those involved in the rescue.