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  Summer Profile: Marine Unit

Jul 29, 2013 14:34 ET

With the summer season about halfway over, and a long weekend approaching, the Durham Regional Police would like to share some information about our Marine Unit.

The Marine Unit patrols approximately 1,400 square kilometres of water between patrolling Lake Ontario, the weedy Lake Scugog and the unpredictable Lake Simcoe with the use of two vessels – the 38’ Hike, and the 26’ Zodiac. The two full-time officers and two part-time officers use these vessels in a number of diverse situations ranging from the typical warm and calm summer days, to windy, rainy, and just-above-freezing days during the colder months.

Marine officers rely heavily on the equipment on board their vessels as there is no quick response rescue for them if they are in trouble. The vessels are worked hard, but are also highly scrutinized for mechanical issues, as the vessels can’t simply be swapped out for another should they break down. A variety of clothing is used by the officers, from simple golf shirts and shorts for warmer days, to ice commander suits that allow the officers to be protected from freezing conditions in and out of the water.

Officers are always available to fellow boaters – new or experienced – or to the general public should they have any queries. They often attend community events and holiday celebrations, and have handouts to educate the public who spend time on, or around the water. Officers are known to hand out flashlights or whistles (both required safety items for many vessels) to children.

A number of operations are conducted in conjunction with other police services, the coast guard and the Joint Rescue Command Centre. The officers can be found walking along the shores of water access areas such as boardwalks and marinas, or on the water, assisting vessels in distress and checking for proper safety equipment and documentation required for boaters.

Many incidents of injury or death on the water involving vessels are a direct result of operator error, overconfidence, or simple laziness. The Marine Unit tries to educate, remind and ensure that boaters are safe, respectful and courteous of others on the water while enjoying their boating experience.

Some incidents involving the Marine Unit this summer included two fishermen who were stranded on their vessel on rocks after their engine cut out. The occupants were clinging to a tree that was hanging over the vessel, and were unable to use their anchor or electric motor because of strong winds. The pair was safely towed to a marina.

Officers were also called to Lake Ontario where a female swimmer had gone missing. The coast guard and Joint Rescue Command Centre were notified, and the DRPS Marine Unit was assisted by a Hercules aircraft, and a Griffin helicopter. A strenuous search was conducted during the night, where it rained for two hours. Unfortunately, the search did not have a positive outcome.

About the vessels

38 Hike:
-Made of aluminum
-Powered by twin 260 horsepower supercharged diesel Volvo engines
-11.5 wide, 11.5 tall, weighs approximately 8 tons, holds 800 litres of fuel
-Radar and navigation devices that allow for travel in limited visibility, rough seas, at night
-Enclosed wheel house with heat and air conditioning to minimize exposure

26 Zodiac:
-Inflatable with rigid hull
-Powered by twin 200 horsepower Mercury outboard engines for rapid response
-Trailered vessel, allows for transport to Lake Scugog and Lake Simcoe
-Holds 700 litres of fuel and reaches speeds in excess of 80 km/h
-Similar capabilities for travel during difficult weather conditions
-A covered console, meaning officers are subjected to the environment frequently

Below are attached files.
thumb (JPG file, 34.5K bytes)
The 38' Hike docked (JPG file, 244.1K bytes)
Marine officer Cst Rob Spring aboard the Zodiac at a Clarington Safety event (JPG file, 480.4K bytes)
The Zodiac catching a wave on the water (JPG file, 324.1K bytes)