NSW Maritime has welcomed the launch of two new vessels and a maritime command centre in Sydney Harbour in preparation for maritime emergencies.

The vessels are worth $2 million and the State Marine Incident Coordination Centre (SMICC) in Rozelle, in Sydney’s inner west, is worth $700,000.

David Elliott, minister for Transport, Veterans and Western Sydney, said the past 12 months have been extremely busy for the Maritime Environmental Services team.

He said unprecedented rain and flooding led to a major increase in debris on NSW waterways.

“These new NSW built boats will boost the clean-up effort, while our new co-ordination centre will be a central hub for our response to natural disasters and maritime events,” Mr Elliott said.

He said the vessels and facility would help the emergency response team support partner agencies in maritime rescues, such as that of the Portland Bay incident in July.

“The SMICC also has the latest in live TV capabilities with direct access to newsrooms not only across Australia but also worldwide, allowing our people to relay real-time information during an emergency.”

NSW Maritime executive director Mark Hutchings said the new maritime vessels would replace older barges.

He said the barges being replaced could be relocated regionally to assist with potential flood response efforts. 

“The new vessels, which have an offshore capability, have been fitted out with the latest in marine technology, including navigation equipment and increased deck space for safe loading of hazards and waste,” Mr Hutchings said. 

“It’s a far cry from the 1930s when cleaners used to row around Sydney Harbour in open timber boats.

“These days the team removes everything from drones, shopping trolleys and Christmas trees to TVs, washing machines and fridges.” 

Mr Hutchings said, in the year ending 30 June, NSW Maritime crews collected more than 2200 cubic metres of litter and debris from Sydney’s waterways and recovered 4600 navigation hazards.

The launch of the maritime vessels and SMICC coincides with the release of the NSW government’s Maritime Safety Plan 2022-2026, which sets out the goal of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on navigable waterways by 2056.