The RAAF has been gifted its only remaining rescue launch used during World War II.

O2-06 is one of 15 separate O2-class vessels built for the Air Force in 1941 and will be restored in its original livery before being displayed at the RAAF Museum at Point Cook.

The boat was originally in service in the Gippsland Lakes, East Sale and Point Cook and was declared for disposal in 1954. It subsequently had three owners, including its latest, Howard “Harry” Bowman, who bought it in Melbourne in 1986.

Air Force operated boats from 1921 to 1993, and the fleet peaked at 1,300 during WWII, with 600 powered craft and 700 unpowered.

A revision of the RAAF Small Marine Craft Program led to the retention of only 107 to provide support in the areas of supply, torpedo recovery, air-sea rescue and flying boat service at eight bases.

These bases gradually diminished in number until only three marine sections remained at Townsville, Williamtown and Point Cook for SAR duties. These three sections remained operational until January 31, 1993.

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