Port Elizabeth: 06 February 2019
A three day search for a group of fishermen at sea off the coast of Cape Town ended happily on Wednesday after they were all found along with their boat in the earlier hours of the day.
The group, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) reportedly got into trouble at sea on Sunday and after an initially fruitless search fouled by poor weather conditions, they were found by another fishing vessel that took them to Cape Town for medical attention.
The MRCC in a report said the rescue of the five (5) fishermen at about 3.45am on Wednesday eventually ended happily three hours later when the men were dropped off the port of Cape Town by the the crew of the Silver Dolphin.
This was exactly three days after the fishermen were believed missing after a National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) report of a fishing boat thought to have been in distress following its firing of flares off the sea near Noordhoek Beach.
“MRCC received information on Sunday night, 02 February 2020 from the National Sea Rescue Institute Emergency Operations Centre of a red flare sighted by a member of the public at Noordhoek Beach. NSRI Stations at Houtbay and Kommetjie were launched to investigate.
“The initial report was relayed as the vessel had run out of fuel and had fired off flares to attract attention to its plight. It was stated that there may be 6 (six) persons onboard the vessel at the time. Additional rescue stations were tasked and set to sea to try and locate the vessel,” reported the MRCC
It added: “Search efforts continued into the night and the surface search accompanied by an aerial search using the SANDF Air Force Oryx helicopter took place Monday 03 February.
“All the while the weather in the form of heavy fog persisted and made search efforts very difficult and very low levels of visibility was very challenging. Efforts were suspended late on the evening and a reassessment was done.
“Five NSRI boats conducted a search again late Monday night well into Tuesday morning but as the weather again got worse efforts needed to be suspended. MRCC Cape Town made provision for another SANDF helicopter and a helicopter from EMS Western Cape but with the heavy fog persisting flying was not possible. Surface craft were alerted of the situation with a continuous MAY DAY Relay being broadcast.
“Assets from the TNPA were also placed on alert but with the visibility challenges no search efforts could be undertaken,” said the MRCC.
According to MRCC, the drama ended in the early hours of Wednesday morning after the crew of another fishing vessel, the Silver Dolphin, reported to have found the missing fishermen, together with their boat.
The MRCC report on Wednesday stated further: “At around 03.45 this morning, MRCC Cape Town was contacted by the Silver Dolphin reporting they had located the missing boat and crew. The fishing vessel was bound for St Helena Bay but was requested to change course and head towards Cape Town and to rendezvous with the NSRI Table Bay Station 3 vessel, with a medical team, which was activated by MRCC to render assistance and bring the crew back to Cape Town.
“The families have been notified along with the Maritime Authorities, who have sent a representative down to the port. The stricken vessel and crew arrived at the NSRI base just after 0630am and are being evaluated by the Western Cape Metro medical personnel.
“The efforts and commitment by all involved actively and those who stood by to deploy while the weather created challenges are highly commended and the MRCC wishes to express its sincere gratitude and appreciation during the operation.”