ALL ABOARD: Monster boat launched at Coffs Marina
THE State's most technologically advanced vessel is ready to hit the high seas.
Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall and Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh officially launched the Solitary Ranger this morning, a 22-metre Fisheries vessel which is the most advanced of its kind in the country.
With a range of more than 200 nautical miles, the vessel would allow Fisheries to crack down on illegal fishers up and down the entire NSW coastline, even heading out as far as Lord Howe Island 600km east of Port Macquarie.
"With a greater capacity for long-range patrols, and the ability to handle rough offshore conditions, the Solitary Ranger can head further out to sea where more and more commercial and recreational fishing is taking place," Mr Marshall said.
"Fisheries officers will have the latest mapping and surveillance equipment at their fingertips, such as infra-red cameras, to help catch anyone doing the wrong thing."
The 21m vessel was not only the largest ever commissioned by NSW Fisheries, it was the largest ever built by local boat building firm Yamba Welding and Engineering.
Mr Marshall personally thanked YWE's Bill and Kathie Collingburn for their effort in producing such an impressive vessel and said he hoped the would have an "enduring" relationship.
In comments that would no doubt buoy the spirits of the Yamba firm, Mr Marshall said he wanted to ensure projects such as this continued to be constructed in regional areas.
The project allowed YWE to put on 11 apprentices and Mr Marshall said they would look into at having future projects built here as the result "speaks for itself".
"(NSW Fisheries') other large patrol vessel the Sydney Swan is reasonably mature and in the next few years we are going to have to look at replacing it with something very similar to the Solitary Ranger," he said.
"When I talk about an enduring relationship, if government is going to make large investments like this one, especially now in a Covid world where we need to stimulate the economy, it's in the interests of all NSW people that every dollar we spend can stay locally and employ local people like this has."
The whole project has been a mammoth task and just getting the boat in the water was a feat in itself, adding around $50,000 to its $3.3 million build.
In May, the boat had to be transported it from the boatbuilding workshop in Yamba, to the Yamba Marina involving a crew of 12, two 120-tonne cranes and a low-loading truck brought down from Queensland.
For the last two months the boat has been undergoing sea trials and was at the centre of a controversy in June after it was seen speeding along the bank of Palmers Island.
The incident raised the ire of several residents who said it created a "monster" bow wave, rocking residential pontoons in the area.
The Department of Primary Industries acknowledged there had been complaints about the incident but said the vessel was operating in accordance with an exemption provided by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.