Prince's plea a career highlight for new Lemon Tree Passage Marine Rescue unit commander

OLD HAND: Richard Osborne, the new Lemon Tree Passage Marine Rescue commander. Picture: Stephen Wark
OLD HAND: Richard Osborne, the new Lemon Tree Passage Marine Rescue commander. Picture: Stephen Wark

IT WAS Richard Osborne OAM, the new Lemon Tree Passage Marine Rescue unit commander, who picked up Malaysian Prince Raja Bahrin's mayday call in 1992, when he abducted his two children from Australia.

The prince took his children by boat from the Cape York Peninsula to Indonesia, but lodged a mayday call that they had run out of food and water.

Manning the radio at the Lemon Tree Passage Coast Guard unit (now Marine Rescue NSW), Mr Osborne heard the mayday call come through.

"The Prince called a mayday off Darwin," Mr Osborne said.

"He said they needed food and water and they had run out.

"He wanted me to call an army commander in Indonesia."

The Australian Navy never picked up the prince, who got the children to Malaysia, where they lived for 14 years.

It was not the first, or last time, a long distance call had been picked up by the Lemon Tree Passage unit.

Mr Osborne said the unit picked up mayday calls at Taylors Beach in Tasmania regularly.

The call stands out in the mind of Mr Osborne, who has been part of the volunteer rescue organisation for 33 years.

Mr Osborne took up the two-year role as unit commander this month. Greg Stuchley will serve as deputy commander.

Mr Osborne is no stranger to unit command, having performed the role four times in the coast guard.

He has also served as radio officer, media liaison and communications officer for NSW Coast Guard, and has been part of Lemon Tree Passage Rural Fire Service for many years.

In 2008 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his community service with the coast guard and RFS.

Mr Osborne said his goals for the next two years were to generate more community interest in the unit, attract new volunteers and get existing members up to Marine Rescue training standards.

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