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Monday, 15 February 1999
Page: 1942

Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 24 November 1998:

(1) At what time was the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) first advised of the fact that the fishing vessel Surprise, was in difficulty south of Strahan, Tasmania, on or around 7 April 1998.

(2) What was the registration and model of the aircraft that conducted the rescue.

(3) Where did the flight originate.

(4) (a)At what time was the company that operated the aircraft notified of the task; and (b) at what time did the aircraft depart.

(5) At what time did the aircraft arrive on the scene.

(6) What was the exact location of the rescue.

(7) Did AMSA consider the use of Precision Aerial Delivery System equipment; if not, why not.

Senator Ian Macdonald (Regional Services, Territories and Local Government) —The Minister for Transport and Regional Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question. It should be noted however, that with the exception of Part 4(b), Senator O'Brien asked these questions following the Senate Estimates hearing on 5 June 1998. Answers to these questions are the same as those provided for Senator O'Brien in June.

(1) At 3.00 pm on Thursday 09 April 1998, a possible Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) signal was detected by the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system. A further satellite pass at 4.03 pm confirmed that a beacon signal was being transmitted from approximately 60 nautical miles south of Strahan, south west Tasmania. AMSA arranged a fixed wing search aircraft through the air charter company "Wilderness Air" of Strahan. That aircraft arrived at the scene at approximately 5.30 pm and sighted a liferaft drifting slowly towards shore in the Nye Bay area, thus confirming that a distress situation existed.

(2) A helicopter, arranged by AMSA for the rescue effort, was an AS50 Squirrel, registration VH-SES. A second helicopter, arranged by AMSA for a night search, was a Bell 412, registration VH-NSP (call sign Helimed 1)

(3) The rescue helicopter departed from Cambridge Airfield in Tasmania. The second helicopter departed from Latrobe Valley in Victoria.

(4) (a) The rescue helicopter was arranged at 4.17 pm through the Hobart Police Headquarters. The second helicopter was arranged at 6.30pm.

(b) The rescue helicopter departed Cambridge Airfield at 4.56 pm. The second helicopter departed Latrobe Valley at approximately 7.20 pm.

(5) The rescue helicopter arrived on scene approximately 6.00pm. The second helicopter arrived on scene at approximately 11.30pm.

(6) The location of the raft was at position 43 03S 145 40E in Nye Bay in inshore waters. The survivor was able to reach the shore to meet the helicopter.

(7) No. At the time of the incident, AMSA did not have available any operational PADS equip ment, nor personnel trained in the use of PADS equipment. Further, there was no call for the use of any air-droppable supplies as the survivor from the incident was located already in a life raft and the second crew member, who potentially could have benefited from air-droppable supplies, was never sighted.