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Operational outcomes

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We have a strong track record of achieving successful operational outcomes through the special missions we conduct on behalf of the Australian Government for border protection, law enforcement, environmental protection, and emergency response operations.

Saving lives

Our search-and-rescue operations cover a SAR response area equivalent to one tenth of the Earth’s surface. Since commencing search-and-rescue operations, we have responded to more than 900 events and been involved with assisting and saving more than 1,500 lives.

In May 2021, we participated in a significant, complex rescue about 700 kms off the coast of WA, which ultimately saved the lives of 20 Indonesian fishermen aboard a sinking 35-metre fishing vessel.

The multi-agency effort included our search and rescue crews and jets from across three bases, the Australian Defence Force, State and Federal government agencies and a Japanese fishing vessel working together to achieve a successful outcome.


In October 2021, our search and rescue crews assisted a family trapped in their 4WD campervan by flooded roads in remote far north South Australia. They dropped all the necessary life-saving items for the young family stuck with their vehicle, but went above and beyond, also providing toys, movies, mail from extended family and a care package created by the crew’s own children. The family was successfully rescued by helicopter in the coming days.

Family stranded

Our grandkids were so excited to see two teddy bears drop out of the air, They’ve named them ‘Simpson’ and ‘Desert’ and they are always going to have those teddy bears.

Mr Zavros, Grandfather

In January 2021, our search and rescue crews played a significant role in the rescue of a man who miraculously survived an eight-hour ordeal in rough seas off the coast of the Northern Territory, wearing only his life jacket. Of significance, this was the first time a solo raft has been deployed from an aircraft to a person in the water by our crews. The crew involved had the opportunity to meet with the man after his rescue.

It’s thanks to this crew that I’ve been given a whole new lease on life. I want to pay it back and support getting the message out there – if you go into the water unprepared, you may not come out.

Nigel Fox, Survivor

In December 2020, one of our search and rescue crew had the opportunity to meet a sailor they were instrumental from saving from his sinking yacht at sea. The rescue had involved our crew visually locating the survivor, keeping him in our sights and maintaining contact until a winch-capable helicopter could get to the scene to retrieve him. The meeting between our crew and the sailor, and gaining the perspective of one of the recipients of our rescue efforts, was invaluable for all involved.

The whole rescue was memorable, to be honest. I was in constant contact with my wife, and with the Cobham crew in the air throughout. I never once felt in danger, and the whole process ran seamlessly.

Derek Desaunois, Survivor