Oak Bay Sea Rescue station leader Jenny Weston during her remarks to accept control of Oak Bay Sea Rescue Three. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Oak Bay Sea Rescue station leader Jenny Weston during her remarks to accept control of Oak Bay Sea Rescue Three. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Oak Bay Sea Rescue unveils, christens new and eventually primary rescue vessel

Oak Bay Sea Rescue Three, fundraised over 5 years, features several safety improvements

Oak Bay Sea Rescue commissioned its latest search and rescue vessel, presently called the Oak Bay Sea Rescue Three, with remarks, a christening and launch in front of an audience at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on Sunday (May 16).

Jenny Weston, station leader of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 33 in Oak Bay, accepted control of Oak Bay Sea Rescue Three following the vessel’s blessing and champagne christening (successful after several attempts) in front of a large crowd of personnel and yacht club members.

The vessel follows the footsteps of Oak Bay Sea Rescue’s previous two which had been commissioned following the completion of OBSR’s latest rescue station in 2014. Oak Bay Sea Rescue One was decommissioned two years ago, and Oak Bay Sea Rescue Two, a slightly larger ship, is the primary fast response vessel.

Oak Bay Sea Rescue Three has a number of quality of life improvements for the search and rescue team, Weston said. The Type-One, Falcons Class, Royal Canadian Marine rescue vessel has forefront safety designs to prevent capsizing, as well as windshield wipers and heated seats.

A raised platform where the crew helms the vessel, navigates and plans their field operations is equipped with special shock absorbers, which rescue society vice president Cathy Stephenson said makes a huge difference when crew are conducting rescues in typically frightful conditions.

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“It means our backs aren’t bouncing every time we go over big waves, and it’s a stable and secure environment for us,” said Weston. Kim Benton, the rescue society’s deputy section leader, likened the difference to riding in a Cadillac compared to a pickup truck and called the technology a game-changer for rescue crews.

“This is a new style for us, and it’s going to offer a new level of safety and readiness for us to be responding,” Weston said.

Oak Bay Sea Rescue Three cost $450,000 – 30 per cent provided by the province through a community gaming capital grant, and the rest donated by individuals, businesses and foundations starting in 2017, Stephenson said.

It becomes the rescue society’s primary vessel in about six months, capable of responding to marine emergencies in the Oak Bay and Saanich area in 15 minutes.


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Bagpipes are played as Oak Bay Sea Rescue Three is launched into the harbour of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on May 15. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Bagpipes are played as Oak Bay Sea Rescue Three is launched into the harbour of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on May 15. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)