Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) gains global recognition with Seamanship Award: SAMSA

Pretoria: Wednesday, 08 November 2023

On Tuesday evening, 31 October 2023, the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre(MRCC) located at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Centre for Sea Watch & Response (CSW&R) finally received the prestigious Seamanship Award 2022 bestowed upon it by the London based Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) early this year.

The award, whose handover was delayed by six (6) months due to logistics related matters, was bestowed upon the MRCC by the OCC in recognition and acknowledgement of its own contribution to the dramatic yet successful rescue of a Finnish sailor, Mr Tapio Lehtinen, who’s race yacht developed problems and had to be abandoned some 500 nautical miles south east of Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), South Africa; while participating in the 2022 instalment of the Golden Globe Race.

The solo sailing Mr Tapio Lehtinen, whose race yacht, the Gaia 36 ASTERIA  eventually sank during the ordeal, was successfully rescued by another race participant, and a South African from Gqeberha, Ms Kirsten Neuschäfer, prior to his being transferred to a more a stable vessel, a bulk carrier vessel known as the DARYA GAYATRI, captained by Mr Naveen Kumar Mehrotra.

Survival and rescue story as personally narrated by Finish global yacht racer, 66 years old Mr Tapio Lehtinen at the OSASA/OCC awards evening in Cape Town.

The MRCC, according to the OCC, played a most critical role in the successful rescue of Mr Lehtinen, even as having collaborated closely with other role players. In receiving the award last Tuesday, at a function held at the Royal Cape Yacht Club’s Regatta Centre, located at the port of Cape Town a few miles east of the city, the MRCC joined Ms Neuschäfer  and others, some of who had been presented with the honours at this year’s OCC annual dinner held Poole in the United Kingdom on 15 April 2023.

On hand to receive the MRCC award were the unit’s Acting Chief, Mr Almar Schutte and Duty Controller, Mr Donald Ratshibvumo, accompanied by SAMSA’s Chief Operations Officer (COO), Mr Sobantu Tilayi. All three shared a few remarks of gratitude to the OCC, the latter which presented the award to the unit Tuesday evening jointly with the Ocean Sailing Association of Southern Africa (OSASA).

They shared a common view that; the MRCC and SAMSA warmly welcomes the recognition and acknowledgement of its work both locally and domestically, also with great appreciation of the contribution and cooperation shown by other key roleplayers, such as Telkom Radio .

However, according to them, it is all really in a day’s work for the MRCC, with absolutely no anticipation nor expectations of awards beyond realisation of the goal of ensuring the safety of life and property at seas.

For their respective remarks, please click on the video links below.

Mr Schutte, in remarks prior to receipt of the award
Mr Ratshibvumo and Mr Tilayi on receipt of the award

For earlier remarks by the SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch & Response (CSW&R), Capt. Pretty Molefe, who could not attend due to other commitments, click here.