Media release

Marine Rescue - Vernon Island


Water police rescue drug runners from lighthouse

Some time on Friday 13 September 2019, three men left the southern side of Melville Island in an aluminium tinny and motored to Darwin.  The three men made a stop at Buffalo Creek, Lee Point before commencing their return voyage to Melville Island.

On Saturday night 14 September, the party was reported possibly overdue.  NT Water Police commenced a search for the three men. They were located by an NT Police Airwing plane on the morning of Monday 16 September clinging to a lighthouse about 100 metres from South West Vernon Island.  The men had run out of fuel and had been on the lighthouse and adjacent reef for two nights.

NT Water Police rescued the men from the lighthouse and also recovered in excess of 100 grams of a cannabis type substance that was hidden on the lighthouse.  The three men were initially keen to get fuel from police and to be left to continue their journey.

The three men were escorted back to Darwin by Water Police.  All three were taken to Royal Darwin Hospital to be assessed for the effects of heat stroke, sunburn and dehydration.   

Police enquiries have confirmed that there were no life jackets, no EPIRB, flares or any other safety equipment on the boat.

A 26-year-old male from Milikapiti has been issued a notice to appear for possession of a trafficable quantity of cannabis and failing to have minimum marine safety equipment.  The other two men rescued were also from Milikapiti and aged 52 and 21.

PFES Media