Skipper’s lack of weather conditions awareness cause of Robben Island vessel incident: SAMSA

Thandi.jpgCape Town: 27 November 2017

An apparent lack of awareness of weather conditions by the skipper of Thandi at Robben Island in September 2017, led to the tourists ferry getting into trouble after taking in water that eventually shut down its engines during a stormy afternoon; an investigation by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has concluded.

SAMSA in a statement issued on Monday (see below) said that at the time of the incident on 15 September 2017, the ferry had 65 occupants on board – mostly tourists – and all of whom were safely evacuated after the crew of the vessel issued a distress call.

According to SAMSA chief operations officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, a preliminary report following an investigation into the incident, found that the accident was due to the skipper of the ferry having been unaware of prevailing weather conditions on the day.

“Before the boat departed, neither the appropriate forecasted weather nor the prevailing weather conditions were taken into account,” the SAMSA statement said.

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South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) COO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi

Mr Tilayi said: “Now that the report has been completed, we will continue with remedial steps to avert a similar crisis. ”

Below is the full SAMSA statement:

SAMSA completes Thandi accident

Cape Town, South Africa: November 27, 2017: The South African Maritime Safety Authority has completed a preliminary enquiry on the passenger vessel Thandi which encountered bad weather on its way to Robben Island two months ago.

On the afternoon of the 15th September 2017, Thandi, an under 25GT small passenger vessel departed Murray Harbour for the Nelson Mandela Gateway in the V & A Waterfront.  The vessel was carrying 65 Passengers and five crew.

Shortly after departure to Robben Island, the vessel started taking on water. The skipper issued a distress call which was received by Port Control. The National Sea Rescue Institute were activated and responded with a number of rescue vessels.

All crew and passengers were disembarked from the Thandi and returned to Nelson Mandela Gateway on the Class VI passenger vessel Madiba 1 or on the NSRI vessel Rescue 3. No one was injured.

SAMSA Chief Operating Officer Sobantu Tilayi confirmed the preliminary report found the accident was due to the skipper being unaware of prevailing weather conditions on the day.  Before the boat departed, neither the appropriate forecasted weather nor the prevailing weather conditions were taken into account. 

The vessel was overcome by the rough sea conditions prevalent on the day of the incident.

“Now that the report has been completed, we will continue with remedial steps to avert a similar crisis,” said Tilayi. He confirmed the owners of the vessel have indicated that the boat would be repaired.

The preliminary investigation has determined that a possible sequence of events may be as follows:

  • Vessel was moving into rough weather when leaving Robben Island – strong wind and high seas/ swell from slightly to port.
  • There was a significant amount of water washing onto the bow of the vessel, likely more on the port side.
  • Water could have leaked into the chain locker space at a faster rate than could drain out.
  • Water washing up against the accommodation specifically on the port side may have leaked into the front below deck compartment.
  • It appears water may have entered the port engine compartment space via the electrical cable ducting running from the port chain locker.
  • Water may have entered the engine compartment through the engine room vent.
  • The port engine compartment bilge alarm was triggered.
  • The skipper stopped the port engine and then could not restart it.
  • As the vessels list increased to port and trimmed further by the head, the front windows, port and starboard were broken by waves coming over the bow.
  • The water washing in through the front windows added to the water on the port side, forward.
  • With the vessel being bow down and a port list the flow of water into the chain locker and the forward port watertight compartment would have increased.

ENDS

Four South Africans rescued from sinking yacht off Mozambique Channel: SAMSA

Fast action out at sea saves the life of a SA Agulhas crew member: SAMSA

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Pretoria: 25 October 2017

High alertness and fast action have been attributed as key to the reaction of the crew of the SA Agulhas that saved the life of a crew member on Tuesday night after the sailor had taken seriously ill while the vessel was out at sea on its way from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town harbour.

According to an incident report filed by the vessel’s crew on Wednesday, the young sailor had taken ill while the SA Agulhas, the country’s only dedicated cadet training vessel was sailing south west on the Indian Ocean, at position 34-24S 022-06E, about 13 nautical miles off the coast of Cape St Blaize south of Mossel Bay.

The report said the ill-disposed crew member was believed to have suffered a severe diabetic attack that led to vomiting, weak respiration and a low consciousness responsiveness.

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A graphic map indicating the geographic point at sea where the SA Agulhas had to turn back and head for Mossel Bay on Tuesday night after one of its crew, a 21 year old sailor fell sick while the vessel was on its way from the East London in the Eastern Cape to Cape Town harbour.

Sea sailing conditions at the time were characterized broadly by relatively calm ocean waters featuring an easterly breeze blowing at about three knots per hour and waves of about two meters in height in a south westerly direction.

According to the report, the SA Agulhas team on spotting the sick sailor, immediately alerted the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) operated Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town for assistance.

The MRCC responded by ordering the vessel to turn around and head towards Mossel Bay, while onshore medical assistance was being activated through the Mossel Bay Port Control as well as the National Sea Rescue Institute. Medical advice was provided by the METRO EMS duty doctor.

The SA Agulhas eventually rendezvoused with a NSRI rescue craft in the bay just after midnight on Tuesday night. A medic was onboard the rescue boat to take care of the sick crew member who was successfully transferred ashore to a waiting ambulance.

The 21 year old patient from Cape Town was taken to a hospital in the coastal town. He’d  joined the SA Agulhas crew earlier this year.

Early on Wednesday, the SA Agulhas reported being back on course on its way to Cape Town.

End

Cape Town ferry incident under investigation: SAMSA

Update One: 14:06 (Saturday, 16 September 2017)

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Pretoria: 16 September 2017

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident involving a tourists cruise ferry in Cape Town from which about 60 people had to be rescued after it got into trouble off Robben Island on Friday, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed.

According to Captain Pierre Schutz, a senior ships examiner (deck) and deputy Principal Officer at SAMSA’s Cape Town Office, the incident involving the ferry named Thandi occurred on Friday afternoon, shortly after lunch, while it was returning from Robben Island to the port of Cape Town, with about 64 passengers on board and a crew of five.

Thandi 3The vessel  is owned and managed by Silver Buckle Trade 21, said Capt Schultz.

He said according to preliminary reports, the drama began at about 2pm (CAT) after the ferry, packed with passengers, and sailing over a choppy sea due to a surge of wind over the Atlantic Ocean, began taking water over the bow.

“She was taking water over the bow due to the swell and wind when the port engine room bilge alarm sounded.

“A crew member attended and reported to the skipper that the bilge pump couldn’t cope. A ‘May Day’ (distress call) was raised. At this stage the forward windows of the vessel were apparently broken by wave action. The main life raft was apparently swept away,” said Capt Schultz.

He said at that point, at approximately 2.18pm, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was activated and shortly thereafter, all the passengers and crew were rescued.

“This involved transfer to multiple vessels, principally the Madiba 1 and all passengers and crew were landed at Mandela Gateway by approximately 4pm. SAMSA has initiated a preliminary inquiry to determine the cause of the incident,” said Capt Schultz.

On Saturday afternoon, the vessel remained afloat and had been secured at Murray Harbour, in Robben Island, confirmed Capt Schultz.

End

Please note that this article has been updated to correct the number of passengers an earlier version stated as 68. This was apparently due to erroneous inclusion of some crew members of the Thandi’s sister ferry, the Madiba I who assisted with the passenger rescue.