Life saving boat launched
Life saving boat launched

The City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club launched its new $30,000 surf boat this morning at City Beach.

The boat is named the Stephen Slattery, after the 38-year-old Petty Officer, one of nine HMAS Kanimbla shipmates who died when their Sea King helicopter crashed during a humanitarian mission to the earthquake-shattered Indonesian island of Nias in the afternoon of April 2, 2005.

About 300 members of the surf club, PO Slattery's colleagues and family gathered at the club building at City Beach for the ceremony.

PO Slattery was not a surf club member, but his family has lifelong associations with the club and donated funds for the boat to honour his memory.

His brother Colin said the day would give him and other family members some closure.

"It's about the symbol of his heroism and the heroism that happens every day, in the navy and out here," Mr Slattery said.

Navy Chaplain Duncan Becsi blessed the boat before a the Last Post and a minute's silence.

PO Slattery's father, Stewart, poured a bottle of champagne over the hull before surf club members took the boat, the first red surf boat in WA, into the water.

Captain Brett Dowsing, who was part of the five-member board of inquiry into the Sea King crash, said the navy was honoured to be part of the ceremony, but ultimately the day was about the family and its gift to the club.

"We've got a great outcome from a tragic set of circumstances," Capt. Dowsing said. "The boat will go on to the younger kids of Perth…and they will enjoy the boat in the spirit of Stephen."

Capt. Dowsing described PO Slattery as a "solid citizen in the navy" who had risen through to senior ranks and had committed more than 20 years of service, serving on several navy ships and winning two Australian Defence medals and recognition from the Indonesian President.

"I am sure he would be extremely proud, a boat being named after you is one thing but I think the connection with the club through the Slattery family would have been the main thing, also to see the guys rowing it in the navy colours."

The boat will be used in competition at State and National titles.

The West Australian

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