The History of Sea Rescue Copper Coast
In February 2003, a group of concerned citizens saw the need for a marine search, rescue and recovery service, and called a public meeting to discuss the matter. A steering committee was set up, and a further meeting called, from which two options emerged, either to set up a fully independent volunteer service, or to start an affiliated volunteer service.
Late in March, the steering committee met with the executive committee of SA Sea Rescue Squadron (S.A.S.R.S.) at their headquarters, to investigate the benefits of affiliation. Items discussed included fees, administration, safety qualifications, and the number of vessels that the proposed flotilla could support. A proposed area of responsibility from Balgowan to Port Broughton was discussed (this was later revised).
In mid May, another meeting was held in the Wallaroo Sailing Club building. After much discussion, a vote based on a simple show of hands ushered in the formation of South Australian Sea Rescue Squadron's Copper Coast Flotilla. At the same meeting, Mayor Paul Thomas announced that a suitable building had already been secured, namely the former Wallaroo Harbour Master's office. This is still the flotilla's radio, administration and training base.
At a meeting in mid July, the first committee was elected, and Peter Sims became the first Flotilla Leader. At this meeting, a call went out for privately owned boats which would be able to pass the necessary inspections, to become part of the newly formed flotilla, and attendees at the meeting were told that instructors would soon be coming up to the Copper Coast to train members to the required standard.
By November of 2003, the flotilla boasted 16 members and two privately owned boats available for operational use, based at Wallaroo and Pt Hughes respectively. An application was made to S.A.S.R.S. for operational status, and the Volunteer Marine Co-ordinator started looking for something suitable to become the flotilla's duty vessel.
Eventually, a suitable boat, a 6 metre Orca was found, twin outboard powered, and it was secured with the aid of a $35,000 State Government grant, going into service as Sea Rescue 04.
The flotilla's area of responsibility was changed to cover the area from Pt Broughton to Cape Elizabeth, which is where it now stands. In 2007, the Copper Coast flotilla won the Kalari Trophy as the most efficient flotilla in the state for the 2006/07 operational year, and vessel numbers rose to 5 privately owned, plus the SR duty vessel.
As time moved on, the flotilla acquired a block of land in East Wallaroo, thanks to a very generous lease provided by the District Council of the Copper Coast, and on this was erected a substantial shed to house the boat, tow vehicle, and forward command vehicle, all of which had previously been stored on private premises.
The ageing Orca duty vessel was replaced by a new vessel in 2008, a new Clayton Gallant 7.4m vessel, powered by a 225hp turbocharged diesel engine and equipped with state of the art electronics to assist in search, navigation and communication. This vessel is the new Sea Rescue 04, currently in use. The addition of a new tow vehicle followed in 2010.