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(generated from captions) WATER LAPS, SEAGULLS SQUAWK Marine and Rescue Squads STEVE BISLEY: The Tasmania Police are the real-life water rats... dedicated to search and rescue ..32 highly trained men and women and enforcing fisheries law. who do it all. They're the only police in Australia get down the river a bit We'll let the 'Dieman' before we actually do it. just so that these guys in the back This happens on a regular basis, professionally, can carry out their duties when we really need it. so we don't make a slip-up Special Operations Group heads out This morning in Hobart, the Tasmanian on a counter-terrorism exercise. (Men chatter and laugh) of Marine and Rescue But it's Leigh Stanley and John Pratt through their paces. who'll put the boats MEN: Yep! Ready to go? OK. Over there, Pete. and the boat is really travelling. This is a precision operation, a slip could be fatal. At these speeds, at about 45 knots now, We're coming up to her slowing the motors down. Just about to execute the operation. from the 'Van Dieman'. We're 50 metres

Standing up.

Coming in. Go, go, go!

(Men converse indistinctly) Sure. That went well. CHEERFUL ACOUSTIC GUITAR MUSIC Skipper, Leigh Stanley, and his crew 'Van Dieman' prepare the police flagship for a 5-day patrol in Bass Strait. The 'Van Dieman' is 23 metres long of 1,000 nautical miles. and has a range the entire Tasmanian coastline, She patrols can handle the toughest conditions. and with a top speed of 30 knots, she oh, a week to a fortnight at a time. So, the boat's locked up for, Gets a bit stuffy, and... a little bit from dust and so on. We just cover it up to protect it pistols on board the vessel, What I'm doing here - we've got operational procedure to be armed. and it's normal The shotty - that's here dispose of wounded animals, in case we've got to but we haven't ever used it. We carry one. But it's there just in case. So, the firearms go separately. I'll lock that up in a tick. requirement for us to carry, OC spray, which is another and the magazines. a flattened police station, Because this is really to anything, so we carry it. we need the equipment to respond and that's where it stays, But it's all secured the whole trip. and that's where it'll probably stay 'cause we take a fair bit with us, It's a bit of a squeeze, but we manage. all the cooking? INTERVIEWER: So, who does Everybody has a go. We all take a turn. the skipper's cabin. Come with me and I'll show you This is where the big cheese sleeps. My job is to maintain the boat... the operation runs smoothly. ..basically, just make sure and it's a bit of fun. But it's a team effort

it's work, we try to have fun. We try to have fun. Even though over the next few days. And you'll probably see that so, there's two of us. Phil's the skipper, Phil can take the wheel. So if I want a break, around. He knows his marine stuff. Allan, or Skeggsy - he's been And we've got Damian on board. our bushwalk rescue guy, diver. He's our chopper man, did you grab, Skeggsy? (Laughs) Which bed so, we've got a good team. Gillian's good on the dinghies, No, that'd be a good stepping stone. anything in it, so... (Chuckles) You can't hurt RADIO BUZZES INDISTINCTLY Gotta listen to the forecasts, where we're gonna lay for the night. just so we know But the yachts are coming down. sou'west to southerlies. They're saying Maybe 35 knots. little boats might notice it a bit. Shouldn't be too bad, but... position of most of the yachts. ALLAN: That's the last updated

just entering Bass Strait now, The bulk of the fleet's in the next 24 hours how they go. so we'll soon know CHEERFUL ACOUSTIC GUITAR MUSIC the Sydney to Hobart fleet Each year, while unpredictable and violent seas, battles its way through with her hand-picked crew, the 'Van Dieman', of Bass Strait patrols the eastern end just in case. to the east coast We'll work our way across Petal Point or Clarke Island, till we get to...probably where we're gonna stay the night. and then we'll assess But that way we're in the area, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, so if something happens during within a couple of hours. we can respond but we try to be in the area Um...we're not here for that, if something does happen. so that we can respond What we'll do, Gill -

a great deal with the big boat, because we don't get up this way the objective today will be for recreational fishers, to patrol the coastal waters we come across, we'll check. commercial poachers - whatever gonna be - just up here? Alright, so, where are you I'll hang back a couple of miles and do what you're doing so you can go ahead and I'm not in your way. Cool. Easy. OK, good. CHEERFUL ACOUSTIC GUITAR MUSIC for the tender boat. It's a support vessel, really, can move at speeds of up to 50 knots. The runabout, or 'Little Dieman',

That's fast. It has to be. also have fast boats. A lot of fishermen (Man answers indistinctly) How are you going? I wouldn't like to swim. This is one place big, white bities around. I think there'd be a couple of those It's a seal area, seal colony, we'll have a look at the seals and while we're out here

to see if there's any injured caught round them. or seals with nets or ropes to National Parks. If there are, we'll report it we'll do it for them, but... Because we can come here, what's on there at the moment. ..we'll just see (Seals bark) They're fine. It's me. Yep. Who's the skipper of the boat? Yes. Yep. You got a licence? Cheers. Looks good. All got your life jackets. Just take some details. No, you want the big fella. Guys have just been here diving. They've got themselves three whopper crayfish and 19 abs, all sized, all licensed, all looking good. They'll probably be heading in soon. Yeah. That's good. Auxiliary. Got flares? Yeah, underneath there. Yep. Fire extinguisher under there. Alright. Is there...? There's a rope under here somewhere... Oh, yuck! I just tread on a fish! Eugh! (Laughs) No worries. We'll leave you to it. The weather's holding and there's quite a few boats on the water, but there's no poachers or cowboys around today. Ever since we had a bad spate of drownings in the State, it got publicised quite a lot and I think since then, people have sort of been a lot more responsible now and a lot more aware of safety issues in boats round the State,

which has been good. LEIGH ON RADIO: 'Little Dieman', 'Little Dieman'. This is 'Van Dieman', 'Van Dieman', over. There we go. LOW-LEVEL CONVERSATION FAT SIZZLES Second course. Tongs there, if anyone wants to be civilised. (Laughs) I don't think so. Why start now? (All chuckle) LEIGH: Light the candles. GILLIAN: Awww! Happy birthday. (All cheer) Hip, hip, hooray!

Hip, hip, hooray! Hip, hip... Hooray! GENTLE VIOLIN MUSIC As the crew sleep, the leading Sydney to Hobart yachts are approaching Tasmania, and the weather in Bass Strait is getting worse by the minute. GILLIAN: What time is it? Um...um...2:45. AM. (All chuckle) And, as you can tell, we're all, you know, ready to go to work. (All laugh) A little overdressed. That's how it goes. Race leader 'Skandia' has a severely damaged keel and has radioed for help. MAN ON RADIO: 1-4-8-1-3. That puts us roughly about Cape Naturalist. Cape Naturalist, yeah. We're 69 miles from the yacht. 69 from the yacht - righto. Roger.

'Skandia', the vessel that hit the sunfish, has keel damage. We've just had a report through Scott Dunn in the radio room that he's reported in a "Pan Pan", which is, "It's a kind of an emergency, but I'm not in danger. "I don't need help." Just letting everyone know. And he's 60 miles off Eddystone Point, rough. We haven't worked out the exact distance yet. We'll be with you in about three hours. MAN ON RADIO: Yeah, I think they just want somebody standing by if the keel separates. There's a possibility, they fear, that the keel may separate, in which case they'll be in all sorts of trouble. Roger. We'll secure ourselves and we'll head now. Righto. Thanks very much. Roger, mate.

Good, cheerio. 'Bye. MAN: We're going, Leigh, right? Yep. Yep, we're going. I'll go and throw some trousers on. Get your gear on, guys. As 'Skandia' begins to drift in huge seas, the crew of the 'Van Dieman' prepare for action. I'll take the fruit upstairs so we've got something to nibble on. What I'll... We're heading in your direction. We'll be with you in about three hours, and we're on this number if you need us. MAN ANSWERS INDISTINCTLY ON RADIO Five hours after the first call, 'Van Dieman' is still chasing 'Skandia'

through 10m seas and 45-knot winds.

We're about 60+ miles offshore now, off Cape Barren Island. We have had some rather large waves, rogue waves, out here and we've had a few frights. At the moment, we've got a chopper talking to the skipper, and... There's the chopper there. ABC chopper. MAN ON RADIO: 'Skandia', that situation now is worsening. There's a 70% probability that they will abandon ship, over. Yeah, roger. We're showing at 10 miles away, we're at 23 knots, so less than half an hour. Yeah, that's great news. Stand by to you. 'Skandia', less than 30 minutes away is 'Van Dieman', over. 'Skandia' has now lost all control and is drifting away from 'Van Dieman'. Her 16 crewmen are in great peril.

OK, guys, there's a 70% chance now that they're gonna abandon ship, so we're probably looking at about 20 people. Phil, you'll man the back decks. I'll do the deck work. Damian, Skeggsy, wetsuits on. Get the boat, like I said - get the guys. (Continues indistinctly) MAN ON RADIO: Mayday, mayday, mayday. This is 'Skandia'... We are preparing to... STATIC DROWNS OUT WORDS

They're abandoning ship. STATIC CRACKLES The skipper of 'Skandia' has made the decision to abandon ship. Unless 'Van Dieman' gets there in time, lives will be lost. INDISTINCT RADIO CHATTER Each of 'Skandia's life rafts only holds eight people,

and they have to deploy two. OK. You right, mate? These people train hard for this type of work. This is where it comes into play. We might have a bit of fun of a night and we have a bit of a joke, but when it comes to this, they know what they're doing and hopefully it all goes well.

INDISTINCT RADIO CHATTER OK - at this stage they've abandoned ship. They're in their life rafts. I don't reckon we tail the boat back. It'll be rescue the crew and get out of here. That's the way I see it. INDISTINCT RADIO CHATTER The rafts are already drifting 800 metres apart. Will 'Van Dieman' be able to reach both rafts and rescue everyone? OK - the plan is, we've got one raft 600, 700 metres to the east of 'Skandia'. We've got another raft just been deployed under the choppers. OK. We'll grab that one first. There's a yacht looking after the second raft. We'll get the skip, most likely. MAN ON RADIO: ABC chopper. I confirm we have eight people in this raft. There are no persons on the boat. There are no persons on the boat - just the crew bags. OK. Yeah, that'd be right. They're the guys that are gonna be doing the work shortly, the guys on the back deck.

I only have to get this thing stationary. MAN ON RADIO: The second raft has been deployed. There are no persons on board 'Skandia'. 'Van Dieman' looks like a small cabin cruiser, but the 23-metre boat is operating in massive seas.

SOMBRE MUSIC

The only way to save 'Skandia's crew is to get them onto 'Van Dieman' fast, and the only way to do this is to use the runabout.

Even though he's been at the wheel for eight hours straight, the skipper now faces the biggest challenge of his career. Rafts can flip over, they can tip over, and with 16 guys, one raft over, someone got washed out of it,

you're not gonna get 'em - you're not gonna get them all. There's no margin for error. If the runabout is swamped or capsizes, there'll be no rescue for anyone. Getting the yachties on board needs each member of the team working at their peak. One slip here will be tragic. GILLIAN: Phil! Hydraulics! TENSE MUSIC Back up, fellas! INDISTINCT CONVERSATION Thanks. Thank you. INDISTINCT CONVERSATION GILLIAN: They're about five metres, Stan. No, not yet!

Having trouble getting on the rollers. They wonder why I'm going grey. INDISTINCT CONVERSATION AND SHOUTING Nine hours after the first call, and 'Van Dieman' now has an extra 16 souls aboard. It's always been a dangerous race. In 1998, six sailors drowned and five boats sank. GENTLE VIOLIN MUSIC MAN: OK, everyone, number off! One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. MAN: Righto.

The closest safe harbour is at least seven hours away, back through the storm. ..sort of keep sailing that way. Yep. It's fairly mind-blowing trying to operate in those conditions. Yeah, it was a new experience. But we both talked to each other and talked our way through it. You're our hero. Oh, no. Wouldn't go that far. (Chuckles) MAN: I think a bomb went off. Direct result of almost 13 hours at sea. REFLECTIVE MUSIC MAN SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY ON RADIO LEIGH: We're not far away now. We're gonna require an ambulance to carry two film crew to the hospital. They're severely sick. We're gonna need transport for 16 sailors to Lady Barron to Whitemark. And if you can arrange 6,000 litres of diesel for me, please.

LOW-LEVEL CONVERSATION PHONE RINGS

Hello. No, mate. We're tied up Lady Barron. So, we're gonna clean up... clean up a huge mess very shortly and then... It was just...it was very untidy. There's still spew out on the deck. Even the yachties, these you-beaut yachties got on board. "Oh, we go round the world. We don't get sick." And there's vomit out there where THEY'VE been spewing. (Man laughs) MAN ON PHONE: Shit. Yeah. Anyway, we'll clean it up after brekkie. I don't think we can handle it before brekkie. No. You want a bit more egg? I don't want it all. Take some before we eat it all. Stan, I don't wanna go anywhere near your eggs. (Stan speaks indistinctly) What was that? (Both chuckle) When we were at Pedra Branca, he spewed and spewed so much that he burnt all his throat. We had to take him off the boat, didn't we? It was a marvellous job. I enjoyed the mouth-to-mouth yesterday. (Groans) WOLF WHISTLE No, I just wanna check that. That is sharp! PHONE RINGS Oh, very well, thank you, sir. How are you? (Laughs) We did. We did indeed, thank you. No, he's certainly not. I'll pass you over. Thank you. Yes, Inspector, I did convey your message yesterday and, yes, we have a bit of fun every now and again, but, I mean, yesterday was a big one. It was... The crew on board this boat excelled. I mean, they were pretty dangerous conditions when they were actually out on the dinghy, and they did a marvellous job both on deck and in the dinghy.

Well, yeah, that's right. I mean, we had 24 people on here yesterday at the end, and you can imagine what kind of mess that was. Everyone was wet. So, we've got heaters going trying to dry out the carpet. Everyone's having a spring-clean just to try and get it back up to scratch for the next one. Basically, he said have a beer on him, which we will. GILLIAN: Oh, that's very good. Yeah. Crownie? I don't know how far he'll pay... No, well, it's a good call, it's a genuine call, and he was... INTERVIEWER: That is...? The boss. You don't usually get calls like that. Who was it from? I mean, that was from the Deputy Commissioner, Jack Johnson. UP-BEAT MUSIC MAN: The time is now 5:04am, and we're here escorting the lead yacht in the Sydney to Hobart down the Derwent River. We're just past the John Garrow light in the Derwent River, which means we're very, very close to the finish line now. And we're here escorting the boat in, ensuring that no spectator craft impede the progress of the yacht. APPLAUSE AND CHEERING MAN ON P.A.: Well, look, first place is in Hobart. And the champagne is flowing. APPLAUSE AND CHEERING As the race winner arrives in Hobart, 'Skandia' is drifting helplessly out into the Tasman Sea. HELICOPTER WHIRRS She was salvaged four days later. So, we came down around in here to Cape Naturalist,

and that's where we were laying when we got the call. So, that was kind of 5.5 hours from here to there, and then another 6 hours to come back in here with the crew on board, and this where we brought 'em to. So, a total day of about 13 or 14 hours. Yeah, 198 miles. Impressive. So, can I ask you to stand and...?

The Commissioner and, indeed, the Department would like to recognise the crew of the 'Van Dieman'. The first commendation... ..goes to Allan Skeggs, Phil Jarman, Gill Dayton and Damian Bidgood. And here's - and I quote... (Reads) .."This is in recognition your leadership, commitment, "professionalism and skills "involved in the rescue of the crew of the ocean-going yacht 'Skandia' "on 28 December 2004 "whilst a crew member of police vessel 'Van Dieman'". So, can I ask all four of you to stand and accept this?

Perhaps Stewie might like to receive it on behalf...? APPLAUSE Any good team requires a leader, and so, Leigh, this is in recognition of your leadership, commitment, professionalism and skills displayed as skipper of police vessel 'Van Dieman' when involved in the rescue of the crew of the ocean-going yacht, 'Skandia'. APPLAUSE Closed Captions provided by Captioning and Subtitling International Pty Ltd