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Pair on dive boat swept into Bass Strait, rescued by cruise ship

Two people have been rescued by a cruise ship in waters near Wilsons Promontory on the southeast tip of mainland Australia after they were forced to abandon ship.

Mar 21, 2023, updated Mar 21, 2023
Two people have been rescued from Bass Strait waters by a passing cruise ship. (Photo: Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

Two people have been rescued from Bass Strait waters by a passing cruise ship. (Photo: Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

Police said a dive boat had departed from Queenscliff on the western end of Port Phillip Bay before running out of fuel near Skull Rock in Bass Strait.

Water Police Squad inspector James Dalton said the pair’s vessel was taking on water before the man and woman contacted authorities and escaped in an attached dinghy.

“They got in contact with us and they were taking on some water, they had no bilge pump,” Dalton told ABC Radio Melbourne.

Police Air Wing sent a helicopter and a ship from Paynesville, about 130 nautical miles away, but there was another ship closer to the pair.

“Luckily for them there was a luxurious cruise ship close by,” Dalton said.

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The helicopter then guided the cruise ship towards the pair’s emergency beacon, and the ship sent a rescue boat to retrieve them about midnight on Monday.

“It is rare, but we certainly do use other vessels when they’re closer,” Dalton said.

He said the pair was lucky and police would be talking to the captain and deckhand when they returned to Melbourne on the cruise ship on Tuesday morning.

“Make sure you’ve got bilge pumps and all your safety equipment, particularly out there – it’s very, very dangerous,” Dalton said.

“They couldn’t even anchor, because the water is nearly 100 metres deep.”

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