PORT KEMBLA WATER POLICE
No. 4 Jetty Foreshore Road
Full time Water Police were first stationed at Wollongong in 1981. This operation involved one Water Police Officer and a trailerised 6.Metre Clark Runabout. Launch ‘ Wollongong ‘.
On the 12th August 1982 the present Station at Port Kembla was opened. The staff was increased to three permanent Water Police and two part time members. At this time the base was equipped with the Police Launch ” Scott “, a 9.5 Metre launch together with the trailerised launch ” Wollongong “. In May 1983 the Water Police then received its first ocean going Police Launch, the ” Sea Hawk “. This launch is a 12.23 Metre timber vessel powered by twin Caterpiller V8 diesel motors, She has a top speed of 28 knots and a range of 200 nautical miles with a fuel capacity of 1200 litres. The Port Kembla Water Police patrol includes Port Kembla and Wollongong Harbours and covers a coastal area from Stanwell Park in the North to the Victorian Boarder in the South. In 1985 the Sea Hawk was replaced by a sister vessel the ” Ken C Price “. This vessel being named after one of the Officer’s in Charge of the Water Police who was killed in an aircraft accident and who’s body has never been recovered.
The present Water Police vessel being used by Port Kembla Water Police is the police launch ‘Fearless’.
Local Volunteer Rescue organizations including the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol and the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard all work closely with the Water Police when necessary in the search and rescue vessels in distress.
HISTORY OF THE N.S.W. WATER POLICE
Today the New South Wales Water Police has its headquarters at Johnston Bay near Pyrmont, at wharf 25 Harris Street Pyrmont. From where operation of more than 30 vessels in Water Police Fleet are controlled and directed. Ocean going Police Launches are stationed at Sydney, Pittwater, Nelsons Bay, Coffs Harbour, Botany Bay (Sans Souci) and Port Kembla. In addition, more than 17 motorised trailer transportable small craft, ranging in length from 5 metres are located at inland centres for patrolling inland rivers, lakes and dams.
Water Police are required to have had some previous experience, either as seamen for fishermen or in the handling of small vessels. Each man is required to obtain the necessary Maritime qualifications, to enable him, under Maritime regulations to drive and navigate vessels, these include Master Class Five Certificates and Marine Engine Drivers Certificates. These courses also include the operation and knowledge of Radar, Radio Telegraphy and Navigation.
Water Police are responsible for the constant supervision of various harbours and coastal waters wherever they may be stationed, not only in the protection of life and property, but for the enforcement of Maritime Laws and Port Regulations. They work in close cooperation with the Customs and Immigration Officials in the prevention of smuggling and landing of illegal immigrants, with the quarantine section of the Commonwealth Department of Health in the enforcement of health regulations, with the officers of the Maritime Services Board and Fisheries Branch.
AIR SEA RESCUE ORGANISATION
The Water Police closely cooperate with the Sea Safety Organisation in Canberra, which is a co-ordinated operation involving the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Department of Shipping and Transport and Civil Aviation Department, who conduct combined search operations for vessels lost or in distress at sea.
The New South Wales Water Police was created by a special Act of Parliament in 1840 and under the control and supervision of a Water Police Magistrate. This followed the old ‘ ROW BOAT GUARD ‘ established by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788. The ‘ ROW BOAT GUARD ‘ was formed to patrol harbours and foreshores of Sydney Cove, to detect smuggling, and to prevent the passing of letters between convicts and crews of sailing ships lying at anchor. The Guard was initially based in the Watchhouse on Garden Island, but because it lacked fresh water facilities, the Governor granted permission for the New Force to establish its headquarters on a site over looking Watsons Bay.
This new location was considered ideal because sailing ships anchored in the bay to await favourable winds and tides for sailing. The location of Watson’s Bay Depot also made it more difficult for convicts to be smuggled aboard departing vessels and escape from the colony.
The Section expanded rapidly and by 1841 the Water Police had a strength of 20 personal, they were located at strategic points within the port – Watson’s Bay, Goat Island and Cockatoo Island. At this time the Army was officially responsible for all expenditure involved in the administration and general maintaince of the force.
Strength of the force had increased to 28 men, including two Detectives, by 1852 and the force was equipped with three Five-Banked rowing skiffs manned by five men and a coxswain. During 1853 the Water Police, while still administered by a Special Magistrate, were incorporated in to the Sydney Metropolitan Police Force and the Magistrate was granted the rank of Superintendent. This arrangement continued until the formation of the New South Wales Police Force in 1862, when the various Police Bodies in the state were amalgamated under the control of the newly appointed Inspector General.
The first power boats to be taken on strength by the Water Police were the Two Steam Launches ‘ARGUS’ and ‘BILGOLA’. In their day they were the fastest craft on Sydney Harbour, and remained in service for 35 years before being replaced by Motor Launches.