Sealegs Corporation Limited (NZX:SLG) has announced the enormity of the damage and rescue requirements in the Brisbane floods has prompted the Auckland amphibious boat manufacturer to deploy a second rescue craft in Brisbane, where the Sealegs craft have impressed authorities with their capabilities this week.
The company sent a 6.1 metre RIB rescue craft and crew to Brisbane earlier this week and the internationally unique and patented New Zealand invention immediately proved its worth with a rescue of 40 people at Logan, one of the worst affected areas, in conjunction with the Queensland State Emergency Service (SES)’s rescue operations.
Sealegs has now loaned a second 6.1m amphibious RIB and crew to work alongside the SES volunteers as they battle to help the thousands of people affected by the worst flooding in decades.
The craft are loaded with SES professional rescue equipment and the first boats initial mission was to go to Logan where there is an island with families from the 50 homes stranded. It completed 4 trips to and from the island, impressing the SES with its amphibious functionality.
Sealegs Chief Executive David McKee Wright said that the company’s Australian representative Tom Carlisle was heading the company’s rescue contribution in Brisbane.
“We have sold more than 75 boats into Australia in the last 5 years but have only recently started talking to the rescue and emergency services about our unique amphibious rescue capabilities. I wish the authorities did not have to experience the capability and of amphibious boats in such tragic circumstance, but delighted Sealegs is proving itself an asset on the front line of first response and rescue craft.”
According to Mr. Carlisle, “Sealegs’ unique amphibious qualities enabled our rapid response craft to achieve the same work load of 3-4 normal boats. Invariably we found that while vast areas were under flood highways and main roads weren’t under water but the surrounding residential areas were.”
“In a traditional flood search and rescue situation in Brisbane using rescue ‘Tinnies’ (aluminum boats) this would involve up to 30 ‘launch and retrieves’ a day, whereas with the Sealegs boats we only had to launch once. This resulted in one of our boats, with two crew and two SES personnel, doing the same work in a day as approximately 15 boats.”
Mr. Carlisle said that the ability to ‘float-drive-float-drive-float’ without stopping, enabled rescues and delivery of emergency supplies to properties on hills marooned by water in speedy fashion whereas traditionally crews would have had to moor then walk the supplies up the hill. Rescues of the elderly who couldn’t walk down hills were also assisted, he said.
“Stranded families do not have to wade through the dangerous waters to gain access to the boat – we simply drive up and they are able to board. This means that each operation we embark on is quicker and safer.”
In one instance the Sealegs boat was able to use its raised front wheel as a fender to manoeuvre a 12 metre concrete mooring pontoon which had broken loose, up onto dry land, “there are many such pontoons which have broken free and are incredibly dangerous because of their weight and mass and speed at which they are being swept down river”
Earlier in the week the Sealegs 6.1m amphibious RIB took Bert van Manen, the Federal Member of Parliament for the District of Forde, out to view the flood damage first hand. He was able to lend a hand to some of the stranded families, helping them to the safety of the main land, and was generous in his praise regarding the impact the Sealegs amphibious craft has had on the rescue operations.
Mr. Carlisle said today that it would take many more days for the floodwaters to recede. “And even then we anticipate our boats will still be deployed for another week or so. The big worry is that the floodwaters are flowing inland and heading into New South Wales and potentially even as far away as the 2500 kms to Melbourne.”