Baton passed at one of the best

Marine Rescue Eden unit commander John Steele (left) will hand over the reins to his current deputy, John McKinnon, on July 1.
Marine Rescue Eden unit commander John Steele (left) will hand over the reins to his current deputy, John McKinnon, on July 1.

Marine Rescue Eden will have a new face at the helm from next month, with John McKinnon to step into the role of unit commander from July 1.

McKinnon takes over from his namesake, John Steele, who decided not to seek re-election after four years in the role, in order to spend more time at home and “smell the roses”.

Now in his fifth year at Marine Rescue, and after 12 months as deputy unit commander, McKinnon says he is ready for the challenge ahead of him.

“It will be a challenge, but over the last 12 months, I’ve stepped in when John [Steele] has been away for whatever reason,” McKinnon said.

“He has always been a great help to me, and I know I can lean on him for the next couple of years as I grow into the role.

“There are a lot of good people here, so even though there is a lot of work ahead, it will be an enjoyable job.”

McKinnon says his main responsibilities will be to provide leadership to the volunteers, maintaining the organisation’s relationship with the Eden Water Police, and keeping radio communications at the current high standard that has the local outfit rated one of the best on the coast.

He says he will also be looking to address an ongoing shortage of volunteers, and encouraged anyone who can spare a little of their time to sign up.

And while John Steele may be stepping down from his current role, he will stay involved with the organisation, with a particular focus on strengthening the ranks.

“It’s a fairly busy job as unit commander, but it’s with a bit of reluctance that I do go,” Steele said. 

“I’m not leaving the organisation though; I’ll be concentrating on training new people, not only at this base, but throughout the whole Monaro region.

“When I announced that I wouldn’t be seeking re-election after this term, which is my second term of two years, John [McKinnon] put his hand up.

“He’s my current deputy and I thank him for that; I know he’ll do a great job.”

Marine Rescue NSW deputy commissioner and director of operations Dean Storey echoed Steele’s sentiments in welcoming McKinnon to the role.

He also paid tribute to Steele’s work in his time at the helm of Marine Rescue Eden.

“We really want to show our appreciation and thanks to John Steele for his tenure as unit commander, and welcome John McKinnon to the role; we’re sure he’ll do a fantastic job,” Mr Storey said.

“John Steele has committed a lot of hours and put a great deal of effort into the role, and we really appreciate that.”

An election to decide the new deputy unit commander of Marine Rescue Eden is yet to be held, but the organisation is hopeful of appointing someone to the role by the end of the month.