Rogue yacht in bombing zone a 'bloody nuisance'
UPDATE 1.30PM: A rogue yacht which wandered into the path of a live offshore bombing exercise by the Royal Australian Air Force has sailed out of harm's way, despite being unresponsive to increasingly urgent radio calls.
Authorities attempted to contact the vessel on several frequencies during the planned Super Hornet bombing exercise to no avail, culminating in the Australian Defence Force alerting police from the NSW Marine Area Command.
It eventually sailed in a northerly direction out of the bombing range, with no apparent urgency.
Asked if the captain of the vessel would be fined for the breach, Marine Area Command Inspector Joe McNulty said the issue was of safety, rather than punitive enforcement.
Inspector McNulty noted that officially the vessel was outside NSW jurisdiction as it was more than three nautical miles offshore, which put it in Commonwealth waters and the responsibility of the Australian Defence Force.
"However that vessel has sailed through the area, and is no longer causing the Australian Defence Force any concerns," Inspector McNulty said.
"(It has) moved out of the area to a safe location for the Air Force to resume its activities."
But an Evans Head Marine Rescue volunteer labelled the yacht a "bloody nuisance".
"There was another yacht out there that did respond and they tried to contact it and it didn't respond to it either," the volunteer said.
"Iluka Marine Rescue tried to contact it, we tried to contact it and it didn't respond to anything."
"We don't know anything about it. We just know it was a bloody nuisance."
"They could have probably sunk it if they wanted, (but) they reckon that's not ethical," he laughed.
The RAAF bombing range is located off a remote beach between Goanna Head and the mouth of Jerusalem Creek and runs about 15km out to sea in a triangular shape, and is about 15km wide at its widest point.
It has been active since the late 1940s.
11.50AM: A yacht remains inside the Evans Head bombing range despite constant warnings from the Royal Australian Air Force.
Police have been alerted to the yacht's presence in the Evans Head Air Weapons Range.
A warning was issued on the Evans Head Notice Board this morning.
"The range will be in use today from 1030am to 4pm.
"FA 18F aircraft will be conducting "live" air to ground gunnery during this time."
The warning stated that Marine Rescue would issue "securite" warnings advising all vessels to remain clear of the "over water Defence practice area "during this time".
10.30AM: A yacht has trespassed into an RAAF live fire exercise south of Evans Head and cannot be reached by radio despite repeated requests on several channels.
A volunteer at Evans Head Marine Rescue told The Northern Star the yacht was not local and clearly had no idea the potentially deadly exercise was being carried out.
"We're not having any luck at the moment, he's not answering his radio," the volunteer said.
"Whether he is on autopilot or sleeping or not, you wouldn't be sure."
"The problem is these planes come up and they can't do their practice because some idiot's in the area."
RAAF radio operators are making urgent attempts to contact the yacht warning them that they are in the path of aircraft loaded with live rounds.