Pretoria: 14 April 2023
A salvage operation at sea south of Cape Town has begun on Friday to recover a stricken fishing vessel that caught on fire, leading to its crew of 26 fishermen abandoning it in the early hours of the day, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported.
SAMSA said the 26 crewmen were safely brought onto dryland early on Friday following a frantic effort involving no less than three ships which had responded to a mayday call by the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre based in Cape Town.
According to the SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch & Response based MRCC; “MRCC Cape Town was informed by Telkom Maritime Radio at 01:00 of the FV requiring immediate assistance due to fire in the engine room. The 26 crew then abandoned ship to life raft sighting the whole fishing vessel to be ablaze,” said the MRCC.
It added that: “A MAYDAY Relay was issued through Telkom Maritime Radio wherein vessels were requested to render immediate assistance. NSRI Stations Hout Bay and Simon’s Town were activated. The MV AQUA EXPLORE, a Bulk Carrier, and FV UMFONDINI diverted to assist. The AQUA EXPLORE, not being able to recover the survivors from the life raft, remained on-scene until the UMFONDINI arrived.
“All crew were safety transferred to the UMFONDINI with the prevailing winds reported to be South-westerly at 15 knots and a water swell of up to 2.6 metres. The AQUA EXPLORE proceeded with normal voyage.
“FV UMFONDINI was intercepted by NSRI Stations Hout Bay and Simon’s Town after which the OLIVIA MARIE crew were transferred to the NSRI Simon’s Town craft. The survivors were safely delivered to Simon’s Town and transported back to their home base at Hout Bay.
“Efforts from MV AQUA EXPLORE, FV UMFONDINI, NSRI, and Telkom Maritime Radio supported MRCC Cape Town in the successful outcome of this maritime SAR incident.
“A Navigation Warning was issued, requesting vessels to report sightings of the OLIVIA MARIE and the life raft, this being in an effort not only to warn of the possible navigation hazards, but also to assist in the recovery of these craft,” said the MRCC.
Late on Friday, SAMSA said the vessel had since been sighted by another ship, the F/V Langenberg at a point where it was some 3.5 nautical miles from the abandoned fishing vessel, in an approximate position 34 11.8 S018 19.8 E from the Coast South of Scarborough.
“The F/V Langenberg is about 3.5 nautical miles from the abandoned vessel and spotted some debris but not a lot, no smoke on the vessel. Visibility is clear. SW wind force 5 of the current Is pushing Olivia Marie to the shallow waters.”
Efforts will continue to recover the abandoned vessel.