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.
South Africa’s Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) is among recipients of this year’s Seamanship award by London based Ocean Cruising Club (OCC), in recognition of their role in the rescue of a Finnish solo sailor after he abandoned his sailing boat that sank about 500 miles south of the South African coast four months ago.
According to the OCC in an announcement, the Cape Town based MRCC, managed under the Centre for Sea Watch & Response of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), will receive the award jointly with Capt. Naveen Kumar Mehrotra and the crew of the DARYA GAYATRI, and Kirsten Neuschäfer who at the time was a competitor in the 2022 Golden Globe Race.
The OCC said the recipients for this year’s Seamanship Award were nominated for “the exemplary coordination of the rescue in the Southern Ocean some 500 miles off the coast of South Africa.
The entire saga ensued on 18 November 2022 after, according to the OCC, Mr Lehtinen reported that his Gaia 36 ASTERIA flooded rapidly from the stern with water up to deck level and then sank.
“Tapio Lehtinen’s boat took on water at the stern and sank within five (5) minutes. Tapio set off his EPIRB, donned his survival suit, grabbed his ditch bag, and deployed his liferaft just before his Gaia 36 ASTERIA sank.
“He was rescued from the liferaft by Kirsten Neuschäfer (who was about 100 miles away at the time of the sinking) and was transferred to a bulk carrier in 3m seas and 25kn winds,” said OCC Commodore, Simon Currin
At the time, the OCC noted that MRCC Cape Town confirmed communication with Captain Naveen Kumar Mehrotra onboard the bulk carrier M.V. Darya Gayatri, approximately 50 nm NW of Tapio’s position, diverting course at 12,5 knots and rendering assistance with an ETA (estimated time of arrival) between 0830 and 1000 UTC on November 19.
“Kirsten called the race coordinators and confirmed she picked up Tapio from the lifer aft and proceeded to transfer him to the bulk carrier. Tapio was in good health and on board the carrier M/V Darya Gayatri en route to China. Kristen resumed racing. It was a textbook rescue that resulted in swift resolution in the Southern Ocean,” said Commodore Currin
According to the OCC, the awards recipients will be presented with the honours at this year’s OCC annual dinner scheduled for Poole in the United Kingdom on 15 April 2023. For the MRCC however, the award will be presented to the team at an occasion in Cape Town later in the year.
Reacting to news of the award, SAMSA’s Centre for Sea Watch & Responde head, Capt. Pretty Molefe described the announcement of the conferment as both an honour and importantly; a crucial fitting indicator of the critical role that the sea watch and response centre and the MRCC independently play in the field of ensuring the safety of life and property at sea – effectively SAMSA’s legislated mandate.
She said: “South Africa, being signatory to the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue adopted by the International Maritime Organization, has an obligation to respond to distress calls within its designated Search and Rescue Region (SRR). This piece of legislation is domesticated by the SASAR Act 44 of 2002, within which falls the South African Search and Rescue Organization.
“MRCC Cape Town forms a crucial part of the South African Search and Rescue (SASAR) Organization, in that, it is tasked with coordinating all maritime SAR operations within our SAR region. A sizeable +/-27.7 million square km’s of it! At the centre for Sea Watch and Response, maintaining maritime domain awareness is of extreme importance for purposes of ensuring a timely response to incidents developing at sea, including Search and Rescue.
“Joining hands so others may live…” The successful execution of this rescue perfectly epitomizes this SASAR motto. Considering the very treacherous nature of the maritime environment, one would appreciate the fact that it takes teamwork and cooperation to execute and conclude a successful rescue operation, especially upon high seas. Not forgetting seamanship, as demonstrated by skilful sailors such as Ms Kristen Neuschäfer and the crew of the DARYA.
“The MRCC is manned by a team of men and women who are not only qualified but are equally as dedicated and attentive to each call that is received, whilst maintaining the highest level of professionalism, often under stressful conditions. I commend the MRCC team for their meticulous coordination of this rescue, in cooperation with the Master of the M.V. DARYA and Ms Neuschafer, which resulted in saving a life.
“We are extremely honoured to receive this recognition and such an important award, Seamanship Award 2022, issued by the Ocean Cruising Club. This industry is not one that is short of challenges but each one strengthens us and makes us better. Ensuring safety of life and property at sea remains imperative for us at the South African Maritime Safety Authority.
The view was also shared by MRCC chief, Mr Jared Blows; whose unit operates 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, constantly keeping a watchful eye and in constant contact, when needed, with the thousands of vessels, big and small; traversing the three oceans region surrounding South Africa.
Mr Blows further expressed his thanks and congratulations to his team at MRCC for yet another successful rescue. He went on to congratulate the other award recipients without whom this would not have been possible.
“The team at MRCC display professionalism and strive to maintain world class standards even under very challenging times.
“Over its almost 20 years being hosted by SAMSA, the MRCC has been involved in numerous incident with some notable being the 2011 rescue of 33 Taiwanese sailors about 2000nm west of Cape Town following their vessel having had an onboard explosion and fire resulting in them needing to abandon the vessel , the Cape to Rio (2014) yacht race rescue incident hours after the race started in very treacherous conditions and more recently the rescue of 62 sailors after their vessel, GEOSEARCHER (2020), sank off Gough Island,” remarked Mr Blows.
Twelve (12) fishermen were rescued off a damaged fishing vessel off the coast of Cape Town on Sunday, while attempts are underway to salvage the boat, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported.
In a statement in Pretoria on Sunday afternoon SAMSA said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is investigating the capsizing of a fishing vessel resulting in the rescue of 12 fishermen.
“The 12 fishermen have been safely returned to shore following a rescue operation involving two Oceana vessels with coordination from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC). The fishing vessel, Restless Wave, is still afloat off Cape Point and a Navigation warning has been issued to vessels around the area. A salvage operation is underway to recover the vessel.
South Africa’s regular testing of its maritime and aviation search and rescue (SAR) tools and equipment, along with deployment in Gauteng recently of the latest MEOSAR system, has been met with approval and appreciation by its international partners in the COSPAS SARSAT Programme, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), and Department of Transport (DoT).
The country’s positive assessments came during a three day South West Pacific Data Distribution Regional (SWPDDR) meeting, to which South Africa is a member State, hosted by the DoT and SAMSA earlier this month (11-14 April) – this after a delay of almost two years due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2019.
The SWPDDR whose Mission Control Centre (MCC) sits with Australia, is one of six across the globe under the COSPAS SARSAT Programme. MCCs – totalling 32 under the COSPAS-SARSAT Programme – are described as centres that take information from a Local User Terminal (LUC) or another MCC and routes it to the proper desistation.
Reflecting on the outcomes of the SWPDDR meeting were Mr Jared Blows, Chief of the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) located at the SAMSA Centre for Seawatch & Response in Cape Town; and Mr Zakhele Twala, DoT’s Deputy Director General: Aviation.
Mr Twala said the country was proud of its successful hosting of the event, even as a virtual event due to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, but also particularly pleased with its outcomes that reflected on the importance of close cooperation and collaboration among participating countries.
In the video below (duration: 3.10minutes), he elaborates on key aspects of the gathering.
At SAMSA, Mr Blows described the meeting “…deemed as very fruitful deliberations.” With regards the country, lauded by SWPDDR members were two significant developments regarding maritime and aviation search and rescue services as managed by South Africa that included the adoption of the S&R MEOSAR system and installation of ground equipment in Gauteng.
Advantages of the MEOSAR system are listed as including,
near instantaneous worldwide detection and independent location determination (independent of beacon-reported navigation data) of 406-MHz beacons,
significantly reduced effect of terrain/wreckage obstructions,
extensive reduncancy/reliability in space and ground segments,
improved location accuracy,
improved beacons and features including
a Return Link Service (RLS) and
redudant localisation of ELT-DTS (validating or back-up of locations through the reported navigation and independent calculations, even at high speeds.
The other development was South Africa’s continuous testing of its system’s communications via various platforms that significantly improved the country’s response rate from a low 50% to above 85% currently
Mr Blows said: “With the ongoing evolution of the COSPAS SARSAT system it is vital for South Africa, as a ground segment provider to the larger COSPAS SARSAT programme, to remain at the fore front of all developments within the system.
“To this end South Africa has committed to move to the MEOSAR system from the current LEOSAR system and installation of the ground equipment has already taken place and is located in Gauteng whereas the older LEOSAR is based in the Western Cape.
“The meeting specifically looked at the processes and time frames for the full commissioning of the new system which will be necessary to ensure the entire COSPAS SARSAT MEOSAR programme moves closer to becoming a fully operational system which will improve the capability and reduce the time between potential satellite detections of distress beacons carried on vessels and aircraft and even some beacons used by hikers etc.
“All these beacon would need to be compliant with the COSPAS SARSAT requirements and must transmit on the 406 Mhz frequency,” he said.
Further, according to Mr Blows, the meeting to which guests included representatives of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, discussions were held also in terms of additional advancement to specifically EPIRBs – maritime beacons; such as the inclusion of Automated Identification System( AIS) and also the Return Link Service (RLS).
On this score, he said it was held that participating countries need to assess their readiness for the use of such beacons within their areas of responsibility. To this end, said Mr Blows, in certain instances legislation would need to be amended and operational procedures amended to accommodate such advancements.
On the critical role the country plays in the COSPAS SARSAT Programme block, Mr Blows said: “With South Africa serving 14 countries within our Data Region, we are required to test communications with these countries on a regular basis.
“However, for many years several of our regional partners often did not respond to these tests of which the results are communicated to the COSPAS SARSAT programme, resulting in the region seeming like a very poorly covered area. To change the perception and because of new technologies such as WhatsApp messaging etc becoming very common, South Africa tested the communications via various platforms and as result our response rate now sits at above 85% compared to previous years lows of 50%.
“The critical importance to note here is that, if and when we are alerted of any distress situations related to beacon activation with the countries we support we now have a far better chance of actually being able to pass along the information to the authorities with those countries for them to render assistance as necessary.
“This initiative by South Africa has been commended by the COSPAS SARSAT programme and was even mentioned and thought to be an excellent use of technology when discussed at a previous meeting of the IMO NCSR meeting.
“These matters will be discussed at length within the South African Search and Rescue forum over the coming weeks and a final position will be communicated via the relevant means. As things develop with our MEOSAR system and any new system and beacon development we will try and keep the users in the air and maritime environments informed,” said Mr Blows.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has said it noted with appreciation the successful retrieval of a sailor whose yacht experienced problems and eventually sank while participating in the Vendeé Globe Yacht Race some 1083km south of Cape Town on Tuesday morning (01 December 2020)
In a statement in Pretoria on Wednesday, SAMSA said the successful retrieval of the skipper of the Yacht “PRB” at about 3am on Tuesday morning was a direct result of collaboration between SAMSA’s Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC), its French counterpart, Griz Nes, and the Vendeé Globe Yacht Race authorities and race participants.
SAMSA said the skipper of the Yacht PRB was scheduled to disembark at the Kerguelen Islands.
According to SAMSA: “The emergency rescue of the skipper ensued shortly after MRCC based in Cape Town was notified by MRCC Griz Nes (France) of an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) activation from the Yacht PRB. The notification was received shortly after 16:00 on Monday afternoon (30/11/2020) and MRCC Cape Town assumed Search and Rescue (SAR) Coordination of this incident.
“The EPIRB position was located approximately 1083km South West from Cape Town. Supplementary information provided with the EPIRB detection allowed MRCC Cape Town to confirm that the Yacht was part of the Vendeé Globe Yacht Race.
“With that confirmation the Vendeé Globe Yacht Race Organisers were contacted, and they confirmed to be aware of the EPIRB detection and were not able to make contact with the Skipper. They had alerted another competitor, Yacht “Yes we Cam!” to head towards the distress location for assistance.
“MRCC Cape Town continued to provide EPIRB position updates and alerted the Race Organisers to the activation of the Skipper’s Man Overboard Device (MOB). The MOB device coordinates were then used to direct the Yacht “Yes we Cam!” to the Skipper where he found to have been in a Life Raft after abandoning the Yacht PRB.
“Initial efforts of the Yacht “Yes we Cam!” to recover the Skipper in Distress were unsuccessful due to Winds of up to 50 km/h and Sea Swell of up to 5 metres. By 03:00 the morning of 01 December 2020 the surviving Skipper was recovered to the Yacht “Yes we Cam!” and it was confirmed that Yacht PRB had broken apart before sinking.
SAMA attributed the success of the rescue to close collaboration as a crucial aspect to effective monitoring and safety of sailors globally, and that it “won the day once more during this incident.”
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.
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.
Angola’s formal ratification of a Multilateral Search and Rescue Agreement (MSRA) with South Africa recently has finally brought into fruition a 12 years old effort to establish formal cooperation on sea search and rescue operations in Southern Africa among six countries considered vital to the success of the operations in the sub region.
Angola, represented by its ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr. Rui J. Carneiro Mangueira, formally signed the agreement in London during a meeting with South Africa’s Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula while attending to an International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council gathering on 22 July.
Also attending was the Acting Chief Executive officer of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Mr Sobantu Tilayi.
The objectives of the Agreement are to ensure co-operation between signatories (South Africa, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and Angola) by pulling together resource and infrastructure in improving maritime search and rescue in the region.
South Africa signed the Agreement in 2007 in Cape Town, and Angola was the last outstanding of the five other required signatories since then.
The sub regional agreement arrangement among these countries stemmed from a 2000 IMO Florence Conference on Search and Rescue and Global Maritime Distress and Safety System that sought to establish regional maritime SAR arrangements in Africa and invited all African coastal States to agree to the establishment of sub-regional RCCs.
The Africa region would be arranged into five sub regional areas with Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centres (MRCCs).
At that conference, South Africa was identified as one of the five countries to host a regional Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) and in 2007, the IMO formally assigned South Africa’s MRCC in Cape Town under the control of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) as the sub region’s centre with six sub centres cooperating on the basis of multilateral agreements located in the Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and now Angola.
The Africa region’s other MRCCs with a total 26 sub-centres, are located in Mombasa (Kenya: 2006), Lagos (Nigeria: 2008), Monrovia (Liberia: 2009) and Buoznika (Morocco: 2011), covering all African countries bordering the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, from Morocco to Somalia, anti-clockwise, as well as the nearby Atlantic and Indian Ocean Island States.
According to the IMO, the centres are intended to work co-operatively to provide search and rescue coverage in what had previously been identified as one of the world’s oceans region suffering most from a lack of adequate SAR and GMDSS infrastructure.
The centres’ sharing of information would also play an important role in the fight against piracy, kidnapping and ransom demands on the high seas – something, which IMO and the whole maritime community, had pledged to tackle with renewed vigour over the past decade.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority has confirmed the sinking of a fishing vessel off the west coast of the Western Cape near Saldahna Bay and the successful rescue of its 10 member crew early on Saturday morning.
According to the SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town, the incident of the sinking of the fishing trawler, registered as Ankoveld/ZR4388, occurred early on Saturday morning at a position some 28.5 nautical miles west north west of Cape St Martin and same distance from the closest land point.
The MRCC said the vessel’s skipper who was among the 10 rescued crew confirmed that the Ankoveld experienced difficulties after it had begun to take water in the engine room, following to which it capsized and sank.
After being alerted to the incident, the MRCC through the rescue sub-rescue centre in Saldanha mobilized a vessel nearest the incident, the Atlantic Leader, which successfully rescued the sunken fishing vessel’s 10 member crew that had already abandoned ship to life rafts.
The centre said a navigational warning had been promulgated warning other vessels sailing in the vicinity of the sunken vessel. SAMSA officials in Saldanha Bay were on the case to conduct an investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, the 10 member crew of the sunken fishing vessel were also confirmed to have since landed safely with the Atlantic Leader rescue vessel at Laaiplek harbour.
An urgent alert warning has been issued to vessels sailing on the Indian Ocean east of South Africa to be on the lookout for cargo containers that reportedly fell off a trade cargo container ship, some 22 nautical miles off the coast of Durban a week ago.
According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which has launched an investigation into the matter, the loss of more than a dozen cargo containers by an MSC vessel occurred on Tuesday, 07 August 2018, while sailing between Port Elizabeth and Durban.
SAMSA said on Monday that a total 13 containers were reportedly lost overboard by the MSC CHLOE at about 11.30pm on Tuesday night a week ago while it was sailing the Indian Ocean in position Latitude 30 degrees 02.65 ‘ South, Longitude 031 degrees 25.9 ‘ East – corresponding to about 21.6 nautical miles ESE of Durban harbour in 550 metres of water depth.
“The vessel was on a voyage from Coega (Ngqurha port in Port Elizabeth) to Durban. Reportedly the vessel was drifting and awaiting berthing instructions when a huge swell struck and caused the vessel to roll about +/- 30 degrees on either side, thereby leading to the containers falling off their stacked position.
“A navigational warning is being broadcasted by the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) Cape Town and transiting vessels in and around the area are requested to keep a sharp lookout and to report to MRCC Cape Town and Durban Port Control of any sighting,” said SAMSA in a statement.
Giving more detail on the type of containers and nature of cargo they contained during the incident, SAMSA said: “The containers lost overboard have been identified as 11 x 40 ft. (HC) , 1 x 40 ft. (Open Top) and 1x 40 ft. ( with citrus fruit) and another 25 CTU on board have sustained damage.
“The vessel’s owners, MSC has confirmed the contents of the containers as general cargo ranging from cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, machinery shafts and agricultural supplies. No lost container contained any IMDG (dangerous) cargo or Marine Pollutants.”
SAMSA said it also verified that “declared IMDG containers (dangerous goods containers) as per vessel’s stowage plan were on board in their respective positions.”
SAMSA further said it has launched an investigation into the incident since the vessel berthed at the port of Durban on Thursday.