Commandos first on rescue scene

It was “just another day in the water” for three commandos who were first responders to a ship fire in Port Phillip Bay last month.

CAPTION: ADF commandos came to the aid of a burning vessel in in Port Phillip Bay. Story by Corporal Jacob Joseph.

The soldiers from 1st Commando Regiment pulled two men, aged 59 and 61, from the water after their boat burst into flames at about midday on May 24.

They were training with Zodiac inflatable boats about three kilometres offshore when they noticed smoke.

Sergeant M said they didn’t think much of the thick plume at first, but with no one else around, they were compelled to investigate.

He said as they approached the inferno, they couldn’t see the passengers but soon found the men a few hundred metres from their vessel.

They had been in the water for 10 minutes before help arrived.

“They had big smiles on their faces when we came over,” Sergeant M said.

“Melbourne is pretty cold, and my biggest concern was treating them for hypothermia.”

By the time the men were rescued and had their welfare checked by the soldiers, police were ready to assist.

Sergeant M said while they may have been a little shaken, the men were fine and handed to civilian authorities so they could be taken back to shore.

The men were transiting to Docklands in Melbourne when their ship caught fire. Investigators attributed the blaze to an engine malfunction and faulty fire-suppression system.

Sergeant M said he was unsure about the threat of explosion as they approached, but took confidence from Private M, who is a firefighter with Fire Rescue Victoria.

“Having the right expertise with us put my mind at ease when it came to fire and the water,” Sergeant M said.


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