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.
Gender Based Violence (GBV) in South Africa and globally – now declared a ‘second pandemic’ – continues to draw special focus in the coming week, with Friday, 25 November 2022 marking the start of the United Nations (UN) sponsored “16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children” worldwide.
In South Africa, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) the country’s maritime sector that is a backbone for international trade through shipping transport and related, is a critical economic sector in which thousands of people of all genders work. Yet, even as also known and acknowledged as affected by GBV, it has remained generally quiet about it.
In a statement on Tuesday in Pretoria, SAMSA said that eerie and unjustifiable silence finally gets to an end this year, come Thursday, 24 November 2022 in Cape Town, where the sector will have its inaugural GBV seminar focused specifically on GBV and related relevant sector specific efforts to fight and end it.
SAMSA, a State agency under the Department of Transport is the organiser of the event.
Leading keynote speakers lined up for the industrial sector pioneering event include Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, World Maritime University President, Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Ms Lena Dyring of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) as well as maritime academic and veteran female seafarer, Dr Momoko Kitada of the World Maritime University.
According to SAMSA, the purpose of the first-of-its-kind sector-wide seminar is to provide opportunity to the country’s maritime to lay bare publicly the challenges of GBV it is confronted with, and to also outline measures current, or planned towards its stemming and eventually eradication.
“Statistics from various studies conducted so far locally and globally paint a horrific picture of a maritime industry in South Africa and elsewhere, that is rife with deep-seated and widespread GBV and which unsurprisingly, impact negatively particularly women.
“A 2014 survey led by International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and its partners revealed that 17% of women seafarers reported sexual harassment as an issue. The survey report further indicated that women with less power (lower rank) in the workplace were more vulnerable to sexual harassment. This was in line with previous studies done on the subject. Cases of sexual harassment continue to grow worldwide, and South Africa is no exception.
“In yet another most recent study on GBV in the maritime sector whose outcome was shared publicly at end October 2022 in Geneva, from a group of 1128 women interviewed WISTA in 78 countries including 51 in South Africa, as many 60% of the women had encountered gender-based discrimination at work, while 66% of these concurred that their male counterparts resorted to harassing and intimidating female co-workers,” says SAMSA.
The agency further says, with South Africa being a Member State of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the country is among eight (8) Member States tasked by a joint working group involving the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and IMO to not only identify solutions to address seafarers’ issues and the human element, but also to focus specifically on strategies and tactics aimed at addressing sexual assault and harassment in the maritime sector.
The approach is by no means divorced from this year’s national Government’s theme for the 16 Days campaign. The theme for the 16 Days of Activism Campaign for 2022 is: “Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment to build Women’s Resilience against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide: Connect, Collaborate, Contract!”
SAMSA says: “Thursday’s seminar in Cape Town, therefore, will serve as a launchpad for the SAMSA Maritime GBV Programme now embedded in its five (5) year Strategic and Annual Performance Plan for 2022-25, to effectively raise awareness and promote the mainstreaming of GBV issues within the maritime industry. Stakeholders engaged and involved in the seminar include, maritime welfare community, manning organisations, ship owners and seafarers,” says SAMSA
The seminar will have two parts: the main event taking place on 24 November 2022, with a participation of approximately 100 people in the room and a possibly wider audience both in South Africa and globally to be engaged through livestreaming of the event on several online social media platforms including Facebook and YouTube.
On the following day, Friday 25 November 2022, SAMSA will conduct a GBV educational material distribution to seafarers within the port of Cape Town. The walk-about and engagement with seafarers at the port will involve some of SAMSA’s Executive Management members and selected guests.
Efforts to recover the remains of a sailor whose yacht, named the PANACEA; sank at sea off Cape coast south of Mossel Bay a week ago continue, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)
In a statement on Monday, SAMSA said the continuing effort occurs against a backdrop where earlier efforts involving the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and others to recover the yacht with the body of the deceased sailor were thwarted by bad weather.
SAMSA said: “On Saturday 20 August, after the body of the solo sailor was located onboard the yacht adrift at sea, arrangements were prepared for the yacht to be towed to Stilbaai where SA Police officials would board the yacht and recover the body of the sailor.
“The yacht was found to have sustained some damage. While NSRI Stilbaai were towing the yacht weather conditions deteriorated and the tow was released. Further arrangements were made for NSRI Mossel Bay to respond on Sunday during the early morning to tow the yacht to Mossel Bay.
“NSRI Mossel Bay took up a tow of the yacht and while towing the yacht towards Mossel Bay the yacht took on water and sunk approximately 12 nautical miles from Mossel Bay. The SA Police Services and the Police Dive Unit are assessing the situation around the possible recovery of the body of the sailor from the sunken yacht.
“The family has been informed of the matter by the authorities and our thoughts remain with them in this difficult time.”
According to SAMSA in an earlier statement on Saturday, the ordeal of the recovery of the vessel and its sailor began after the yacht with the solo sailing skipper was reported missing after it had left Cape Town harbour on Friday, 12 August 2022, headed for Mossel Bay, but had failed to arrive at the scheduled time.
SAMSA related that: “The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town was made aware of a sailor onboard the yacht PANACEA that had departed Cape Town on Friday the 12th of August and was headed to Mossel Bay.
“After three days of no contact with his family, the sailor’s mother informed MRCC that she was concerned however not overly so, as her son was reportedly in no immediate rush to reach Mossel Bay. MRCC Cape Town, out of concern requested Telkom Maritime Radio to broadcast marine messages requesting vessel routing along the south coast between Cape Town and Mossel Bay to lookout for and report any sightings of the yacht and report it to the MRCC.
“On Friday 19th August a report from a passing vessel was received. Due to very bad weather the vessel could not remain on scene. However a different vessel managed to locate the yacht as well, and tried to confirm the safety of the lone sailor without success.
“With the concern and need to establish the safety of the sailor, MRCC Cape Town activated and tasked the National Sea Rescue Institutes’ rescue boat from the Hermanus station to proceed to the area, establish safety of the sailor, and render any assistance that may be required. Following an extensive search lasting well into the early hour of Saturday, morning the rescue boat – having operated for over 10 hours under very difficult sea condition and in near zero visibility – was stood down.
“The South African Air Force at 22 Squadron in Cape town was tasked along with the Air Sea Rescue team from the NSRI to prepare to launch at first light to head to the scene and provide assistance. Due to bad weather the flight departed later than planned and arrived on scene during the early afternoon of Saturday.
“Once on scene a rescue swimmer from the NSRI team was deployed from the helicopter to board the vessel. Unfortunately, the lone sailor was found but deceased. Plans are currently underway to recover the sailor and the yacht,” said SAMSA
In the meantime, the entity expressed condolences to the family of the sailor. Further, SAMSA expressed its gratitude to the crews from the NSRI and the South African Air Force “for the excellent efforts under very challenging condition present during this operation.”
The recovery of a fishing vessel whose 12 member crew was rescued on Sunday this past weekend after it capsized while out at sea near Cape Point, continues, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The rescued crew was safely returned to shore following to which a salvage operation to recover the vessel, named Restless Wave, was launched.
According to SAMSA, during the early hours of the morning on 26 June 2022 the pelagic fishing vessel Restless Wave capsized while located approximately four (4) Nautical Miles off the Cape of Good Hope.
There were 12 survivors recovered and they were landed safely in Hout Bay at 08h00 the same day. No injuries or fatalities were reported and the vessel owners working with salvors set out to recover the vessel and fishing gear.
On Thursday morning, SAMSA said the vessel was being towed to Cape Town Harbour and was expected to be in the Table Bay anchorage around noon. “SAMSA continues to monitor the operation,”said the agency in a statement
Stevedoring business at South Africa’s coastal areas, mainly the country’s commercial ports, has warmly welcomed the resumption of periodic safety meetings and workshops conducted for their businesses by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). The gatherings bring together the stevedoring companies, Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) and Transnet Port Terminals (TPT).
This emerged strongly at the third and biggest of these meetings conducted so far this year by SAMSA at the TNPA House at the port of Cape Town a week ago – these being the first in quarterly series since being interrupted by the outbreak of the Covid-10 pandemic in South Africa in February 2020.
The meetings are primarily for safety issues. However, the practitioners in the subsector feel comfortable to bring industry development related issues to the forum.
According to SAMSA manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Maritime Welfare, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, the stevedoring business meetings, now in their 12th year; are held among the main stakeholders with a view to periodically share both general information of good business practices in that specific maritime economy subsector, developments relating to applicable legislation governing both the conduct of stevedoring business, as well as matters concerning the maintenance of good health and safety standards.
Stevedoring essentially involves the loading and off-loading of goods from cargo vessels, as break bulk and containers as well as the conduct of business related thereto.
Generally, says Mr Rantsoabe, as many as 30 registered and licensed companies are responsible for stevedoring at the country’s ports: – from Richards Bay and Durban in the east, East London, Ngqurha, Port Elizabeth in the south, and Cape Town and Saldanha Bay in the west coastline.
In terms of applicable legislation, from a SAMSA perspective, the National Merchant Shipping Act, 1951 is primary; providing for codes of practices and regulations that govern matters of occupational health and safety and cargo handling on board vessels.
It is on the basis of this legislation and codes and regulations that SAMSA also conducts regular inspections as well as audits in the subsector at the country’s ports and stevedore premises, this deriving from its legislated mandate for ensuring the safety of life and property at sea.
In Cape Town on Wednesday last week, no less than 14 of these companies were represented at the first Stevedoring Safety Meeting since 2020 and the enthusiasm in the meeting room was palpable.
This was particularly apt given what was described by many as a most torrid time the stevedoring business in the country encountered during the major national lockdowns brought about by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Research findings shared by SAMSA at the Cape Town meeting indicated that while the majority (about 95%) of the stevedoring businesses were sparred the spate of Covid-10 pandemic deaths among their employees, however; close on half incurred either a ‘bit more’ or a ‘lot more’ business running costs compared with the pre-pandemic outbreak period.
It also emerged that during the periodically disrupted operations, stevedores were not provided with adequate Personal Protective Equipment, in addition to other associated challenges that included a lack of occupational safety inspections before the beginning of shifts, lack of supervision in instances where foremen and supervisors were not found on board vessels, signallers working without signalling equipment or found not in their correct positions during cargo operations.
However, with Covid-19 pandemic restrictions having slowly been lifted nationally over the past year, and goods shipment worldwide beginning to pick again, the stevedoring business is now almost fully back at work.
At the conclusion of the Cape Town Stevedore Business Safety Meeting, this blog spoke to Mr Whaleed Diedericks, a business owner of Pebblehouse Stevedoring at the port of Cape Town, to solicit his views on the significance and importance of these SAMSA conducted stevedore subsector meetings and workshops. To view, click on the 6 minutes video below.
Meanwhile, Mr Rantsoabe also took time to outline broadly the developments in the stevedore business from a SAMSA perspective, explaining why the meetings and workshops are pivotal to the success, sustainability as well as growth and expansion of this maritime economy business subsector: To view, click on the video below:
South Africa’s active state of readiness for incidents management on especially its maritime environment remains critical to its ability to react positively, effectively and efficiently to both natural and man-made disasters, inclusive of oil spillages at sea according Captain Vernon Keller, deputy Chief Operations Officer at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
Capt. Keller shared the view while addressing just over 50 delegates and officials at the start of a five days, in-person Incident Management System (IMS) training in Durbanville near Cape Town on Monday morning.
The Interim IMOrg is a joint industry-government and nongovenrmental institutions’ emergency response national structure established to contribute towards preparedness of the country with effective and efficience management of maritime incidents such as oil spills offshore.
Its specific objective involves the staging of joint emergency response drills to prepare the country for a variety of incidents and uses the Incident Management System (IMS) as its preferred response model “for effective and efficient use and deployment of the available resources, both human and equipment, for all types of incidents including marine pollution.”
Code-named: Operation Bank Cormorant, – after a now rare, endangered species of a bird endemic in Namibia and the western coast of South Africa – the training underway in Cape Town this week, sponsored by the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) and conducted by Vulcin Training with support from various specialist companies in incident management, began on Monday and will run until Friday (13 May 2022).
The first three days comprises a desktop training of delegates covering the IMS 100, 200 and 300 modules, to be followed over two days (Thursday and Friday) by a live full scale oil response deployment exercise scheduled to take place a few kilometers offshore, off the port of Cape Town.
The training and full scale real time exercise will be the first of its kind since before the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019.
In his remarks marking the official start of the five days training, Capt. Keller thanked delegates on behalf of the Interim IMOrg, for “taking interest and participating in the training and deployment exercise, as it provides an opportunity for South Africa to build capacity necessary to effectively respond in cases of incidents and disasters and the IMOrg’s efforts to institutionalise the IMS response model.
He said: “To have an effective response, it is critical that the responders are fully trained and certified competent on the Incident Management System. Additionally, it becomes important that the country mobilise resources and conduct exercises to assess its response in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.”
For his full remarks, Click on the video below (duration: +-5mnts)
Described as equally significant about this year’s Interim IMOrg IMS training and exercise is the involvement of the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) – a multi-national and multi-sectoral organisation established by South Africa, Angola, and Namibia for the promotion of a coordinated approach to long-term conservation, protection, rehabilitation, enhancement, as well as sustainable use of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem.
BCC’s South Africa National Project Officer, Ms Tembisa Sineke described the multi-national structure’s direct involvement in the IMS training and exercise in Cape Town this week as highly significant to the extent it provided opportunity also for direct involvement and participation of incident management officials also from Namibia and Angola.
According to Ms Sineke, in her address of the delegates, it was necessary and appropriate that the three countries who are partners in the BCC should expand their areas of cooperation and collaboration to include especially training on incidents management, as such incidents on occurrence, generally impact all of them in varying degrees.
There were sighs and clear signs of relief on the faces of both a group of seafarers as well as the handful of family members as the SA Agulhas II – the country’s most advanced polar research vessel – berthed at Eastern Mole 1 at the port of Cape Town on Monday evening with the seafarers safely onboard.
It was the end of a +5 000 kilometer journey for the 60 seafarers on board – 47 of them South African – who narrowly escape injury two weeks ago some 2600 kilometers deep in the Atlantic Ocean, after their Balize-flagged fishing research vessel, the Geo Searcher, sank within a mile off the Gough Island after it reportedly struck underwater rocks, quickly took water and sank.
The hair raising incident, and during which two of the 62 sailors suffered minor injuries had, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), occured in the late afternoon of Thursday, 15 October 2020, while the group of seafarers was sailing in the vicinity of Gough Island.
When the vessel reportedly struck the underwater rocks and rapidly took water, the seafarers scrambled onto safety boats that helped them reach dry land.
SAMSA through its Sea Watch and Rescue linked Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town not only first picked up the frantic calls for help from the vessel’s crew after it got into difficulty that Thursday afternoon, but also co-ordinated the entire rescue mission – working hand in glove with various institutions and State departments including the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), owners of the SA Agulhas II.
With Captain Knowledge Mdlase as Master of the SA Agulhas II, a week ago the vessel was dispatched to the Gough Island to fetch the stranded seamen and after initially battling with choppy ocean winds, it succefully reached and fetched all the seafarers for on boarding onto the SA Agulhas II for the 2500 kilometer trip to Cape Town, which ended on Monday evening.
From a SAMSA perspective, the safe rescue and return of the 60 seafarers (two more others were dropped of at Tristan da Cuhna) marked the successful completion of South Africa’s most biggest sea rescue mission in over a decade.
This is according to the head of SAMSA’s MRCC in Cape Town, Mr Jared Blows. In a brief chat on Tuesday, the morning after the return of the SA Agulhas II from Gough Island, Mr Blows said constant alertness and closer cooperation with various others institutions was key to the success of the mission.
For his views (+3 minutes) click on the video below.
Meanwhile, Captain Bengu described the rescue mission as having been relatively smooth, this despite challenging weather conditions initially on their arrival near the Gough Island last week. It took the vessel the entire four days to get there.
According to Captain Bengu, the rescue mission started hurriedly during the evening of Thursday, 15 October when he and his SA Agulhas II crew had to drop off in Cape Town a group of passengers that were onboard returning from a research mission, and had to rush back towards Gough Island.
“The vessel departed at about 11pm on Thursday and sailed full speed – at about 16 knots per hour – towards Gough Island, which took us about four days.
“Unfortunately when we got to the island on 20 October, the weather was unfavourable to conduct any flight operations especially with regards flying seafarers onboard. We had to wait it throughout the evening until we decided to call off the operation for the day. The following day, as soon as there was a weather opening – a two hour gap in the weather – a very brave helicopter crew took a decision to fly even as the conditions were not so good. They managed to bring on board all 62 seafarers safely and unharmed,” said Captain Bengu.
He said in addition to rescuing the stranded seafarers, the SA Agulhas II crew also conducted an environmental inspection for oil spillage around the wreck of the sunken vessel, the Geo Searcher.
Later upon departure from the island, the SA Agulhas first headed for Tristan da Cunha where it dropped two of the 62 seafarers after which it headed for South Africa.
“On our arrival at Tristan da Cunha, the Tristanians were very generous and donated clothing and food for the rest of the survivors,’ he said.
For Captain Bengu’s full remarks, click on the video below (+-4minutes)
He also described the 62 rescued seafarers as “most grateful and with full appreciation of the hospitality they received.”
Regrettably, this blog could not convince any of the rescued seafarers on Monday evening to speak on record about their ordeal this past week. This notwithstanding, several seemed happy to have made it back home in good health and were full of praise for the SA Agulhas II crew.
A cargo vessel whose anchor ‘fouled’ while at anchorage off the port of Cape Town will remain under close watch for any potential difficulties it may encounter as strong winds accompanying yet another blistering south Atlantic Ocean deriving cold front continue to batter the area.
In a statement in Pretoria on Monday, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed that it was currently monitoring the container ship, MV JPO Libra, in Table Bay, Cape Town.
According to SAMSA, the 41,000-ton Liberia registered carrier arrived in Cape Town from West Africa late June 2020.
“The JPOLibra is a container ship built in 2005 (15 years old) and currently sailing under the flag of Liberia. The vessel‘s anchor fouled and cannot be safely unfouled until the weather subsides. The Cape is currently being battered by a severe storm.
“The vessel is not in any danger and is not dragging anchor and its engines are on immediate standby, ready for use. SAMSA will continue to monitor the situation and will dispatch the SA Amandla tug should the need arise,” said SAMSA.
The stricken crude oil tanker, Yua Hua Hu, is expected to finally reach the port of Durban sometime on Tuesday, in the tow of a tug, after more than seven days of reporting problems while sailing through South Africa’s Wild Coast on the Indian Ocean, reportedly on its way from Singapore to Libya on the west coast of Africa.
According to SAMSA in an update report, the vessel left Port St Johns coastline at about lunchtime on Saturday, under tow by the tug Pacific Dolphin, to the port of Durban and was expected to arrive at the port sometime on Tuesday.
The China flagged tanker was not carrying any cargo when it began experiencing problems a week ago in the vicinity of a South African part of the Indian Ocean that is historically known for its Wild Coast which over years have claimed many a vessel.
The tankers crew was reported to be safe.
Pretoria: 28 May 2020
Pretoria: Thursday 04.30pm (GMT)
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) continues to monitor the stricken crude tanker off port St Johns.
The tanker, the VLCC Yua Hua Hu remains safely anchored in 35 metres of water just off Port St. John’s. The vessel was monitored throughout the night and SAMSA can confirm that the vessel anchor is holding.
The tug “Siyanda” secured a tow to the stern of the tanker last night and is currently static towing the tanker while she is at anchor, awaiting the larger tug “Pacific Dolphin” to arrive on Saturday. The Pacific Dolphin has a bollard pull of 220 tonnes and will be used to tow the tanker to the port of Durban for repairs to her Main Engine and Stern Tube. The weather conditions do not present a threat to the vessel at this time.
Efforts continue in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of South Africa to save a stricken large oil tanker that reportedly ran aground on Tuesday, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)
The incident, one of three reported during the week involving commercial vessels in distress along South Africa’s oceans, involves a Chinese flagged super oil-tanker, YUA HUA HU which reportedly experienced unidentified problems while sailing through South Africa’s Indian Ocean area known as the Wild Coast on Tuesday.
The vessel was believed to have been sailing from Singapore to Angola on the west coast of Africa. SAMSA in a statement on Wednesday said the agency through its Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town, was coordinating an emergency response to the immobilised large crude carrier, offshore of the Wild Coast near Port St Johns.
“The tanker is safely anchored one nautical mile off Dome Bluff on the outskirts of Port St Johns and being monitored by the MRCC. The tanker is not carrying any cargo. All 27 crew on-board the casualty vessel is reported to be safe and no injuries have been reported,’ reported SAMSA
The agency added that emergency rescue arrangements involved among others, the deployment of a tug owned by AMSOL from Durban. It was expected to rendevous with the stricken tanker at about 8pm on Wednesday.
“She will act as the standby tug until the arrival of the emergency towing tug (ETV), which was deployed from Cape Town this morning with an experienced Salvage Master on-board. The ETV is due to arrive at the tanker within 48hrs.
As part of the rescue effort, no less than five stations of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) along the Indian Ocean coastline, from Durban to East London with rescue swimmers, as well as a Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) helicopter would be on standy overnight, should they be needed, said SAMSA.
In addition, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DEFF) had also placed its Tier 1 Oil Pollution Response team and a privately owned Smit International Salvage team were also on alert, ready to deploy from Cape Town.
“SAMSA remains in direct communication with the vessel owner representatives and the master, who is providing their full cooperation to contain the threat to the South African coastline,” said SAMSA
Meanwhile on the west coast (Atlantic Ocean), SAMSA reported two other shipping incidents; one off Cape Town involving a cargo ship that had apparently caught on fire, and another in Saldahna Bay involving a fishing vessel that had run aground after being on caught on rocks at sea near the port.
According to SAMSA, in the Cape Town incident on Monday (25 May 2020), a vessel requested to anchor off port of Cape Town due to fire onboard. “Permission was granted to allow vessel Master and crew to fight the fire under a controlled environment.
“The cause of the fire had yet to be ascertained, but reported to have started from cargo hold number 6. The vessel Master also confirmed an explosion from the ship, resulting in the loss of two containers overboard. The vessel was then escorted by a sister ship MV XIN AN NING to the port of Cape Town.
“A first response team comprising of Salvage Master, SAMSA surveyors and City of Cape Town Firefighters boarded the vessel via helicopter to complete a damage assessment and determine the safety risk that the vessel posed, after which they agreed that it was safe for the vessel to board in the port.”
Further up the west coast, in Saldanha Bay, according to SAMSA, a “vessel ran aground at the harbour entrance yesterday, with 32 crew members onboard. National Sea Rescue Institute was activated and attended to the incident.
“The vessel is off the rocks and will be towed into port by a harbour tug boat. No oil spill has been reported at this stage, and a pollution boom has been deployed around the vessel as precautionary measure.
“The vessel was successfully refloated and brought into Saldanha and berthed alongside without any pollution incident. The vessel is now under tow, by the SA Amandla Tug, to Cape Town. The estimated date of arrival in Cape Town is 05 June 2020,” said SAMSA.
Methanol poisoning is believed to be the cause of the death of one crew member and hospitalization of five others in Durban, South Africa, from a Netherlands ship that was sailing past the country early this week.
According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) activated a rescue mission at about 7.51am on Tuesday after receiving a call for assistance from the Captain of the BOKA VANGUARD to help evacuate and seek urgent medical attention for five crew Brazilian crew members who had apparently fallen sick on board. An additional crewman had already died before MRCC was notified.
This occurred while the vessel – described as a heavy lift ship – was sailing on the Indian Ocean, approximately 276 kilometres East from the port city of Durban on its way from Qindao in China to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
On receiving the urgent call for assistance, MRCC said medical and evacuation support was activated involving the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the Western Cape Metro Emergency Medical Services, the South African Air Force as well as the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in Durban.
At the time of rescue and evacuation of the vessel’s sick crew, all five were in a critical condition with the potential risk of death, said the MRCC. It was reported by the Captain that the methanol poisoning happened during the evening but he only got to know about it that morning.
Both the TNPA and SAAF readied aircraft for use in the evacuation. The Air Force’s resources were utilised as it could carry all five casualties at once, while the NSRI also launched a boat from Durban as an additional safety measure. The MRCC described the sea and weather conditions during the operation as calm with the wind at 13 km/h and with a swell at 1.7 metres
At the time of writing, it could not be established what condition the sick crew were in since hospitalization on Tuesday.
MRCC Cape Town expressed its appreciation for the support provided by the SASAR Signatory Agencies and the contribution to the successful medical evacuation.