WRECK SEARCH: Don Watson, of Lismore, speaks by mobile phone to his son, Lieutenant Commander Tim Watson, who is commanding
WRECK SEARCH: Don Watson, of Lismore, speaks by mobile phone to his son, Lieutenant Commander Tim Watson, who is commanding

Navy joins ultralight hunt

By NERIDA BLOK

Day-long search off Tyagarah by navy minehunters fails to find missing wreck

IT WAS not the kind of reunion Lismore man Don Watson had hoped to have with his son.

From the shores of Tyagarah Beach yesterday, Mr Watson watched as Lieutenant Commander Tim Watson helped Tweed Heads police search for two men believed killed when the ultralight they were in crashed into the sea on October 22.

Lt Cmdr Watson, 39, is commanding officer of HMAS Norman, one of two Navy warships used yesterday to search the sea- bed for signs of Ocean Shores man Will Banks and his son, Joel Banks, of Lismore.

The other ship was the minehunter, HMAS Gascoyne.

From sunrise to sunset, the navy crews searched the seabed about 500 metres from shore.

Lt Cmdr Watson, a former Trinity Catholic College Lismore student now living in Sydney, said they were on their way home after nearly three months deployment overseas when police asked for assistance.

"We were literally passing by," he said.

"We don't do this normally. We look for mines. It does feel strange to be on such a mission in my home area."

However, Lt Cmdr Watson said they were pleased to be able to help with the search.

"Our job is to use our training to do the best job possible, knowing we may or may not find it," he said.

But at 5.30pm yesterday, despite an extensive search involving sonar, mini-submarines and a team of divers, Lt Cmdr Watson said nothing was found.

"We looked really hard," he said. "I doubt it's here. If there was an aircraft in the vicinity, I think we would have found it."

Lt Cmdr Watson said police thought the aircraft had crashed 300 metres off the beach, but because of the weather and the time factor, the aircraft may have moved.



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