Twenty two fishermen rescued from a sunken vessel off Cape South Coast. Authorities to investigate: SAMSA

Rescue effort
(File photo) Sailors rescued off the coast off the coast of South Africa

CAPE TOWN: 08 December 2017

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) says it will begin investigation into the sinking of a fishing vessel in the Western Cape early on Friday morning and from which about 22 fishermen were successfully rescued.

According to SAMSA in a statement on Friday morning, the incident involving the fishing vessel, Ellis C, owned by the Selvak Investments group, got into trouble and sunk in  rough sea conditions shortly after its entire crew of 22 was rescued some 70 kilometers south west of Danger Point off the Cape South Coast.

The SAMSA statement issued about an hour ago read as follows:

Cape Town, South Africa, December 08, 2017:  The South African Maritime Safety Authority’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) coordinated the rescue of 22 crew members in the early hours of this morning after their fishing boat encountered rough seas  approximately 70km south west of Danger Point off the Cape South Coast.

The fishing vessel Ellis C, owned by Sevlak Investments, sunk after the crew was rescued.

The vessel took in water after wrestling with waves of approximately three to four meters in height and with wind blowing at around 30km per hour.

MRCC received a distress signal at 00h:49am this morning (Friday) via the Maritime Radio Service, that the fishing vessel was taking in water and starting to sink.

MRCC Chief, Jared Blows said they acted promptly to coordinate the rescue. “MRCC also used the Automatic Identification System installed at the centre for monitoring vessels to quickly identify which vessel it was and as well contacted vessels that were in close proximity to the scene.”

“Vessels that were identified to be the closest to the scene were requested to change course to the location to assist.”

First on the scene was the I&J fishing vessel Fuchsia, following was the Realka and finally the Singaporean flagged motor tanker Aral Sea.

The Fuchsia, even with waves breaking over the stern of the partially submerged Ellis S, was able to go alongside it and transfer all 22 crew on board.

The Aral Sea stood by and provided lighting using its spotlights thereby enabling an easier handling of the transfer.

All crew members were brought to safety on board the Fuchsia. The distressed vessel sunk within minutes of them being saved from it.

The National Sea Rescue Institute was initially dispatched to assist. However, nearby ships came to the rescue.

“Rescue efforts concluded at 08:24 this morning when all rescued crew were landed safely ashore in Hermanus.”

The Fuchsia proceeded towards Hermanus with the assistance of the NSRI. The crew of the Ellis S were taken ashore to waiting medical services and other relevant authorities who attended to them.

SAMSA will conduct further investigations as to what caused the vessel to flood and eventually sink.

End

Durban beaches ready for festive season after nurdles spillage clean-up: SAMSA

DSC_1944
Clean up of Durban beaches to rid it of millions of tiny pellets known as nurdles is progressing well, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). According to SAMSA, the beaches should be ready for the 2017 Festive Season.

CAPE TOWN: 08 December 2017

 

Durban beaches will be ready for thousands of revelers this festive season after a successful clean-up of millions of tiny little plastic pellets known as nurdles that polutted almost the entire eastern coast of South Africa after the break up of containers containing the pellets during a freak weather storm that battered Durban recently.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on Friday in a statement spelling out progress achieved to date with the clean-up.

DSC_1983The SAMSA statement reads:

December 08, 2017: As the festive season approaches, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) along with Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Transnet National Ports Authority (TPNA), and the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) are optimistic that KwaZulu-Natal beaches are ready for bathers and holidaymakers.

Authorities have been working tirelessly around the clock to retrieve a total of 2000 bags that were carrying plastic polyethylene nurdles lost from containers following the storm on October 10, 2017 in KwaZulu-Natal.

The storm wreaked havoc causing several deaths in and around the province, as well as extensive damage. It further caused destruction at the Durban harbour when several ships lost their moorings, and four shipping containers fell off vessels.

A Joint Operations Committee, attended by SAMSA, DEA and TNPA has met regularly reporting on the progress of the clean-up. While the Durban Harbour has been declared safe and clean, the authorities are still monitoring the area. So far at least 3,5 tons of nurdles have been recovered.

The clean-up teams have worked around the clock to ensure that the Durban beaches were ready for the festive season.

The JOC confirmed this week clean- up operations will now be concentrated on the north coast as heavy deposits of nurdles were spotted on the Northern lagoon banks.

The MSC has appointed local firm Drizit Environmental who have been storing the nurdles at their depot in Jacobs, Durban, and were using several clean-up teams round the clock.

The clean-up has moved from the Durban beaches, towards the North Coast beaches, namely Clarke Bay, Granny’s Pool (second clean-up), Shaka’s Rock, Thomsons Beach, Mvoti beach, Villa Royale beach, and Ballito main beach.

Areas which have also been prioritized are the Tugela Mouth Lagoon and the Hatchery Lagoon.

SAMSA’s principal officer based in Durban Captain Hopewell Mkhize confirmed that the clean up process was progressing well.

“Drizit has assured us that they will continue in their efforts to ensure that the critical beaches are treated as priority, and that their they are declared safe for use before December 10, 2017.”

Mkhize said the clean-up process will be ongoing. Some areas have been recharged with nurdles and having to be cleaned again. “The situation will be monitored for now before the decision to stop is made.”

Additional resources and personnel provided by DEA have been brought to sites, and are assisting to speed up the clean-up operations. During the clean- up operations different types of plastics, not emanating from the containers, were also spotted.

Mkhize said an ROV Survey was completed to scan the bottom of harbour area to ensure that none of the nurdles bags were trapped underneath. The investigation found nothing.

A model study was further undertaken looking at the currents, the tides, and the wind to confirm the possible places where the bags could have gone. The clean-up teams were busy with the targeted areas and also focusing on the projections of the model results.  

SAMSA was overall pleased with the clean-up process and welcomed the efforts by the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Working for the Coast program to clean up the shorelines.

The support from volunteer groups who have assisted with the clean-up efforts, and the public at large has been greatly appreciated. There have been reports received of nurdles washing up on beaches in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape. These reports are of great concern and are being addressed, the DEA said.

ENDS

 

Toasting home grown talent: Volvo Ocean Race Team electrical engineer, Ashton Sampson

DSC_2538CAPE TOWN: 06 December 2017

The Volvo Ocean Race is generally regarded worldwide as the most supreme water sailing sport in the world, and with good reason. Oceans sailing skill and talent combined with the most modern technology in yacht racing over a period of over 260 days at sea at a time, simply positions the sport at the top of rankings of its kind.

For South Africa, the Volvo Ocean Race would mean pretty much very little without its direct participation and contribution, both as a touching point during the race’s course around the world, and for the opportunities it offers for business investment especially in the boat manufacturing and repair sector, as well as the marine tourism and hospitality sectors.

DSC_2468
Crew members of the Vestas team who took third place on the South Africa leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18

Strategically positioned as the gateway to the southern ocean, South Africa but specifically Cape Town in the Western Cape has, according to organizers and local hosts of the event, always been a welcome sight for sailors and boat crews, not only because of its world renowned beauty and hospitality, but also due to the boat building maintenance and repair expertise in the city.

During a two week stop-over in the Mother City, this time around occurring in the window period of 24 November 2017 to 10 December 2017, the race pumps into the local economy more than R500-million and in the process, creating new and expanded business and job opportunities for locals.

Such job opportunities are what have led to one young South African, a young electrical engineer from Grassy Park in the Cape Flats, Ashton Sampson, aspiring to and eventually joining the VoR Team a few years ago, and never having to look back again.

DSC_2807
South African born Volvo Ocean Race Team electrical engineer, Mr Ashton Sampson in Cape Town this week

Sampson dropped in back home this past week with the arrival of the VoR for the South Africa leg (second leg of the race overall) to do what he does best – making sure that the seven yachts are in tip top condition once again, when they sat sail for the third leg of the race on Sunday, 10 December 2017.

The yachts having started arriving on the afternoon of Friday, 24 November 2017, have  since been spending time in the dedicated VoR Boat Yard on the south western end of the Table Bay harbor where Sampson and teammates have been working long hours to ensure that the ‘Volvo 65’s’ will be in their best sailing condition to take on the 6 500 nautical mile journey to Melbourne, Australia.

This blog learned that 38 year-old Sampson developed a love for the ocean from a very young age and through hard work and determination, was able to become part of the Volvo Ocean Race team, known as the ‘best of the best’.

DSC_2794.JPG
Some boating business and Volvo Ocean Race enthusiasts visiting the VoR Boat Yard at the Cape Town habour near the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Educationally, he is the product of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), one of the top institutions in the country which working closely with other partners including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), produces top notch sailors and other maritime sector related graduates.

Sampson’s is a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering, which eventually led to his being hired and employed by London’s Diverse Yachts in 2009, which he then left in 2015 only to rejoin again in 2017.

DSC_2805.JPG“I’ve been passionate about sailing and electronics for as long as I can remember and always wanted to combine the two. I was given the opportunity to join the South African America’s Cup in 2004, which set a path in motion that I don’t regret at all.

“I work very hard and I think I have a good work ethic. I believe this always shows in the quality of my work and people notice this, said Sampson in an interview.

About his direct involvement with the VoR Team, speaking in a remarkably flawless English accent, he said: “We’ve been contracted to the Boatyard, a sub organisation of the Volvo Ocean Race, which has been setup to maintain all systems relating to the fleet.

“For the first edition of the one design fleet of Volvo 65’s in the 2014/15 race, I eventually ended up managing the installation phase of all the electronic systems across the fleet.

‘We were then appointed to maintain the fleet’s electronics as they raced around the world and worked closely with various suppliers.  This time round it’s a very similar setup, but we’ve refined the processes.”

DSC_2265
The ‘Gateway’ to the Volvo Ocean Race precinct at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town

In between the times he has left and rejoined his current employer, Diverse Yachts, Sampson worked for the British America’s Cup team, Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing as a systems technician. His rejoining the former employee a few months ago was for serving specifically in the current VoR, he says.

This 2017/18 VoR South Africa leg stop over is not the first for him. He’d been here before, he told a group of local boat manufacturing and maintenance that visited the VoR boat yard a few days after the racing yachts docked.

DSC_2429
Crew members of the Mapfre, the first Volvo Ocean Race yacht to reach Cape Town on 24 November 2017

Describing his love for the F1 of yacht racing, Sampson said: “It takes a lot of professionalism and teamwork to make this race a success, both on and off the water. All the people across the fleet have very high standards and I thrive in this kind of environment. The hardest part is to always plan and anticipate events that the race will throw at you and being fully prepared for it.”

When on dry land, Sampson lives in a small town, Fareham, in the south of England near the coast with his fiancé. 

DSC_2517He admits to missing Cape Town and South Africa. “I mostly miss family and friends, but also the many attractions around Cape Town relating to nature; the local fauna and flora, animals, mountain ranges, oceans, inland lakes and friendly people. Cape Town is truly unique in this regard as it has so much to offer and explore.”

To stay close to the sight and smell of the ocean, and which his Fareham abode offers in abundance, Sampson said:  “I always live near the coast – I love being around water. My parents and most of my family are based in Cape Town and I generally visit at least once a year. Of course it helps that the race is in my home town. Cape Town is most certainly the best stopover in the world!”

Sampson’s fellow South Africans on the team include Mike Coburn, who is involved in sail making through North Sails, and Simon Botes, who is involved in the hardware (deck gear, winches and more), dealing with Harken.

End

SA research and training vessel, SA Agulhas reaches Mauritius en route to Antarctica: SAMSA

DSC_2374
(File photo) The SA Agulhas departing from Cape Town to Port Louis, Mauritius on Friday, 24 November 2017 to pick up a group of Indian scientists en route to Antarctica for the second scientific research and cadet training expedition of 2017. The sojourn will last at least 80 days.

CAPE TOWN: 04 December 2017

South Africa thanks AU for support at IMO Council elections: Chikunga

37881256545_ddda9291b9_k
South Africa’s Transport Department Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga casting her vote for the country’s retention of its seat in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council during last week’s IMO Assembly elections in London. (Photo: IMO)

CAPE TOWN: 04 December 2017

South Africa has expressed appreciation for the continued support it is receiving from the African Union, this after the southern tip of Africa’s country lobbied successfully to retain its seat in the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Council in London on Friday.

IMG-20171202-WA0003
Gifts and wraps! Some of the items shared with IMO Assembly members by South Africa in London a week ago during its lobby for reelection onto the IMO Council

Despite South Africa having served on the IMO Council and its Assembly since 1995, deriving in part from a relationship established as far as 1948, election for a seat onto the IMO Council is not a foregone conclusion and the 40 Member States that serve on it have to wage a convincing campaign among the 176 countries that make up the United Nations maritime affairs body’s Assembly.

During the IMO Assembly’s  30th Regular Session in London last week, the situation was not any different. The IMO Assembly has been meeting in London since 25 November 2017 and will wrap up business for the session on Thursday this week, (06 December).

Voting to elect new Member States to the IMO Council for the 2018-2019 period took place last Friday – the 5th day of the 30th Regular Session of the Assembly and South Africa emerged among the 40 Member States that will now serve on the council in the next two years.

The IMO Council, – the supervisory structure of the IMO Assembly over two year periods between sessions – is made up of three categories of Member States;

 

South Africa retains its seat in IMO Council

38624385846_02963bb55d_k
Representatives of Member States of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) during their biannual meeting on London this past week. The IMO Assembly meeting began on 27 November 2017 and will wrap up on 10 December 2017. On Friday, the Assembly elected 40 Members States including South Africa that will serve as its Council over the next two years. (Photo: IMO)

CAPE TOWN: 02 December 2017

South Africa has managed to hold onto its seat in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council, the organization confirmed in a statement from London on Friday.

This, according to South Africa’s Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga; means that the country will continue to serve on the body, representative of not only her own interests, but also those of the  Southern African Development Community.

The IMO, made up of about 180 Member States (or countries) is the United Nations specialized agency entrusted with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships globally.

37881256545_ddda9291b9_k.jpg
South Africa’s deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga casting a vote during the elections of the International Maritime  Organization (IMO) Council for the 2018/19 period in London on Friday. South Africa successfully lobbied IMO Member States to help it retain its seat in the council (PHOTO: IMO)

The IMO Council in turn, is the executive organ of the IMO responsible under the Assembly, for supervising the work of the organization. According to the IMO, between sessions of the Assembly that take place every two years, the IMO Council “performs all the functions of the Assembly, except that of making recommendations to Governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention.”

South Africa has served in the IMO Council for a number of years in the Category C slot of Members States.

Designated as Category C Member States are countries denoted as having “special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.”

26904486609_eee56fb5c4_k.jpg
(PHOTO: IMO)

The IMO Category C Member States slot constitutes the highest number of countries  – a total of 20 – making up the IMO Council’s 40 members, and each of the countries in the category has to be voted in by other Member States in order to obtain and or retain its seat in the council.

The rest of the IMO Council members is made of up 10 Category A Member States denoted as being those with “the largest interest in providing international shipping services.” The final group of 10 is made up of Category B Member States that are classified as those  countries with “the largest interest in international seaborne trade.”

At this week’s IMO Assembly gathering in London, IMO Member States voted into Category A were China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States.

Voted into Category B of Member States were Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates.

In Category C, for which South Africa bid successfully for retention of its seat, the country was joined by the Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey.

Ms Chikunga
South Africa’s Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga addressing an International Maritime Organization (IMO) gathering in London on Monday. South Africa was bidding for retention of its seat in the IMO Council.

In her address of the IMO Assembly earlier in the week, Ms Chikunga whose South Africa delegation at the gathering included senior South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) senior managers, among them; chief operations officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi; urged IMO Member States to vote South Africa back into the IMO Council in order to ensure that the country continued with its contribution to work of the organization.

Ms Chikunga noted that South Africa was the only country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region of Africa standing for re-election in the IMO Council and in South Africa’s viewpoint, it was only correct that IMO Member States in Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia and Oceanic states should support the country’s retention as a member of the IMO Council.

“The re-election of South Africa to the Council will ensure that the developing countries in general and the African continent in particular gets a fair voice in the international maritime affairs,” said Ms Chikunga.

Ms Chikunga further highlighted several other factors in which South Africa remains a central player towards the IMO and the world’s pursuit of particularly sustainable development of oceans economies.

In London on Friday, the IMO said elected Member States including South Africa will constitute the IMO Council for the 2018-2019 biennium.

“The newly elected Council will meet, following the conclusion of the 30th Assembly, for its 119th session (on 7 December) and will elect its Chair and Vice-Chair for the next biennium,” said the IMO.

Meanwhile, the organization confirmed that its 30th Assembly meeting in London which began from 27 November will continue through to to 6 December 2017 with all members  entitled to attend.

According to the IMO, “the Assembly normally meets once every two years in regular session. It is responsible for approving the work programme, voting the budget and determining the financial arrangements of the Organization. It also elects the Organization’s 40-Member Council.”

End

 

Volvo Ocean Race 2017 in SA a platform for global dialogue on oceans economy: V&A Waterfront

DSC_2660CAPE TOWN: 01 December 2017

The two-weeks stopover of the almost year-long Volvo Ocean Race (VoR) at the Table Bay in Cape Town is more than just a prestigious international water sports event, but an opportunity for global engagement among stakeholders and interested parties on how best to develop and grow maritime economies on a sustainable basis.

DSC_2555.JPGAt least that is the view of the V&A Waterfront – one of the host venue sponsors of the VoR 2017/18 South African leg currently underway since about a week ago. Since the seven yachts dropped sails and switched off engines after touching ground at the V&A Waterfront, no less than four significant gatherings inclusive of two interrelated international conferences on oceans governance and sustainability have been held at the venue, with a few more lined up for the second and last week of the VoR 2017/18 leg.

And that is the whole point, says V&A Waterfront managing director, Mr David Green who on Thursday afternoon told this blog that the global event presented South Africa not only a top class water sport event with millions of followers globally, but also a golden opportunity to engage with maritime sector stakeholders and interested parties worldwide on a whole range of oceans related issues, inclusive of environmental management best practices as well as investment opportunities.

DSC_2265.JPGFrom an economic development perspective, apart from the tourism and hospitality subsector that stands to gain a substantial portion of the estimated R500-million the VoR pumps into the Cape Town economy, South Africa’s marine manufacturing industry, but particularly the boat building subsector stands to benefit from association with the event, he says.

For the full three (3) minutes interview click below.

More updates to follow

End