Port Nolloth: 24 April 2017
Six fishermen were successfully evacuated from a fishing vessel off the west coast near Port Nolloth in the Western Cape during the early hours of Friday in a dramatic rescue that ensued following to the vessel running aground.
In command of the rescue effort was South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) surveyor and acting Principal Officer for the Port Nolloth region, Captain Justin Coraizin and a De Beers/SAPS team, during which Capt Coraizin personally saw to it that the men were safely evacuated in conditions he described as extremely dangerous.
Capt Coraizin said the Luderitz registered vessel, MV. Fukula, (previously, African Bounty) apparently drifted and ran aground in an unhospitable area off the Atlantic Ocean some 12,7 nautical miles, south of Port Nolloth while on route to Saldanha Bay.
“It is not clear yet how the vessel got involved in the accident in clear calm seas. When we reached it, it was already two-thirds underwater and we immediately made the effort to rescue the 6-member crew, using ropes. The vessel is lying in a very difficult position that makes it hard to reach from the shore,” said Capt Coraizin
He described the area as being in the vicinity of De Beers mining area in the Atlantic Ocean and the site of the accident as being very remote, only reachable with off-road vehicles as the terrain is very rocky and sandy.
Shortly after the accident, the crew raised an alarm that was picked by the SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town and to which Captain Cozairin and the charter vessel the Aukwatowa which was the first responded to the scene from the local port in Port Nolloth.
He said the vessel Aukwatowa had been first to reach the scene within a hour and half after incident occurred, and whereupon arrival, a rubber duck team was launched to investigate the accident. However due to dark conditions, this first effort was abandoned.
“However, we were lucky that our efforts worked well from the onset. We threw rope and it connected the first time, and after tightening it hard around some rocks, we managed to get each crewmen to climb towards shore and fortunately, each one of them was safely evacuated. The rescue effort took about 45 minutes,” said Capt Coraizin.
The rescue team had very limited – less than an hour window to get the crew to safety as the tide was coming in, said Capt Coraizin.
He said the fishing vessel had about 2500liters of diesel onboard and it appeared to be leaking. “We are closely monitoring the situation and taking such measures are are necessary to contain any spillage while we continue with our investigation of the incident,” he said.