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.
Quick action and a well coordinated response by the South African Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) saw about 16 crewmen of a Taiwanese vessel rescued successfully from the stricken vessel off the Indian Ocean on Tuesday morning.
The MRCC also confirmed that the vessel that first experienced difficulties sailing had soon caught fire and was slowly sinking, some 1100 nautical miles south east of Durban.
The dramatic rescue of sailors off the vessel, the Teng Ming Yang#268, according to the MRCC, ensued from about 6.45am (South African Time) after the centre picked up a distress signal from the vessel indicating a need for assistance.
“At 06h45 local time MRCC Cape Town was alerted via the COSPAS SARSAT system (EPIRB detection) of the Taiwanese fishing vessel Teng Ming Yang #268 possibly needing assistance.
“The distress position as per the detection placed the vessel more than 1100 kilometres South East of Durban within the South African Search and Rescue region. MRCC Cape Town Duty Team immediately contacted the Taipei Rescue Coordination Centre to obtain additional details. The satellite AIS system was used to identify any vessels near the casualty position that may be called upon to assist.
“Taipei RCC stated that the vessel had reported a fire onboard and the 16 crew were going to abandon the vessel to life rafts. A MAYDAY relay broadcast was issued by Telkom Maritime Radio for vessels in the area to assist.
“The vessel Mearsk Lanco (approximately 500 kilometres away) immediately responded to the MAYDAY broadcast but was thanked for the response and stood down by the MRCC as a sister vessel to the Teng Ming Yang #268 was already diverting and a second vessel was also on route.
“Constant monitoring of the AIS system indicated that the sister vessel arrived in the area just after 0900 local time. This was confirmed by Taipei RCC minutes later when they reported that Teng Ming Yang #888 reported that it had rescued the 16 crew from the life raft. The vessel was reportedly still burning and sinking slowly. A Navigational warning has been issued.
“SAR systems and RCC cooperation has yet again proven its value,” said the centre in a statement.
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.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will launch an investigation into the capsizing of a leisure vessel in Knysna on Wednesday with eleven people on board.
According to SAMSA in a statement in Pretoria on Thursday, the incident reportedly occurred shortly after lunch on Wednesday when the boat, with eleven people on board, including the skipper, capsized.
All the people on board the vessel – described as a 9 metre RIB “adventure harbour cruise” boat with twin 300HP engines known, and named the MOONRAKER – escaped without injury except for shock and suffering cold, said SAMSA.
The organization reported: “At approximately 1300 local time today (4 July 2018), MRCC Cape Town received an initial report via Cape Town Radio informing that NSRI Knysna had launched to assist a small boat that had capsized in Knysna area leaving unknown number of people in the water – all wearing lifejackets. The weather conditions experienced was waves of up to 4 metres and wind speeds of up to 10 knots.
“MRCC Cape Town immediately initiated a MAYDAY relay broadcast for vessels in the area to assist.
“Subsequent reports indicated that the charter boat SPIRIT OF KNYSNA had sighted the capsized Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RIB) and had called NSRI Knysna to assist. The radio call was intercepted by Cape Town Radio.
“MRCC informed Mossel Bay Port Control, SAMSA Mossel Bay and NSRI Mossel Bay to activate and assist.
“SAMSA Mossel Bay established that the name of the capsized RIB was the MOONRAKER (a 9 metre RIB with twin 300HP), a private “adventure harbour cruise” boat operating from Knysna. There had been 11 persons on board and all had been rescued. SAMSA had made contact with the owner of the vessel to confirm information.
“NSRI Mossel Bay confirmed that all of the persons from the MOONRAKER were safe ashore at the rescue base and that there were actually 11 people on board – 10 passengers plus 1 skipper. The survivors were suffering from shock and cold but no injuries. Upon arrival back at the NSRI Knysna additional medical support was provided by the ambulance on-scene. The boat was not recovered.
“Since then NSRI Knysna have relaunched two boats and are attempting to retrieve the capsized boat and debris.”
The South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town had to spring into fast action early on Wednesday after two crew members of a bulk carrier departing from South Africa for Brunei reportedly suffered serious injuries while sailing through choppy waters on the Indian Ocean.
Working in collaboration with a number of local institutions as well as a medical doctor in the Eastern Cape, the MRCC dispatched a South African Air Force aircraft from Port Elizabeth to pluck the injured crew members from the bulk carrier for medical attention in East London.
In a statement, the MRCC said the rescue scramble occurred early on Wednesday after the bulk carrier, KS Flora, sailing from the deep water port of Ngqurha in Port Elizabeth and while approximately 81 kilometers south west of East London, on its way to the Maura Port in Brunei, sent and emergency call for assistance with two injured crew members
“Today at 0934 SAST MRCC Cape Town received a call from RSC East London advising of two injured crew members on-board Bulk Carrier ‘KS FLORA’ approximately 81 kilometres from East London. The vessel had left Algoa Bay (Ngqura) bound for Muara Port in Brunei. The two crew got injured due to vessel experiencing bad weather. One crew suffered severe left knee injury and the other suffered severe fracture left foot.
“MRCC then requested our coastal radio station (PORT ELIZABETH Radio) to connect the vessel to the METRO doctor for him to make a medical judgment on the condition of the two crew.
“The Metro doctor advised that one of the crew should be evacuated as soon as possible and he suggested air evacuation due to the urgency in the casualty requiring treatment. The vessel was diverting to East London as it was the closest port from their position.” said the MRCC.
A South African Air Force aircraft dispatched from Port Elizabeth rendezvoused with the vessel during the day approximately 36 kilometres from shore, for evacuation of the injured crew members and who have since been admitted to a hospital in East London.
The MRCC confirmed that the bulk carrier had since returned onto its journey to Brunei.
To learn more about the role of the SAMSA MRCC, please click here:
South Africa’s bid to retain its seat in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) General Council got underway in earnest in London on Tuesday after the country’s deputy Transport Minister Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga addressed the assembly during its final gathering of 2017 which ends in early December.
The IMO Council whose members are drawn from 40 Member States around the world, is the executive organ of the IMO responsible for supervising the work of the international organization. The IMO Council is elected by the IMO Assembly for two-year terms.
The IMO’s General Assembly meets for its last meeting in 2017 on 7 December.
For IMO purposes, the Africa (sub-Saharan) region is composed of 48 countries bordering the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and of these, 37 are IMO Member States.
According to the IMO, the Africa region has a combined total coastline of 30,725 km with South Africa, – located epicenter across three oceans, the Atlantic to the west, the Southern in the south and the Indian Ocean to the east – accounting for approximately 10% or 3200 km of that coastline.
In her address of the IMO in London on Tuesday, Ms Chikunga noted that South Africa was the only country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region of Africa standing for re-election in the IMO Council and in South Africa’s viewpoint, it was only correct that IMO Member States in Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia and Oceanic states should support the country’s retention as a member of the IMO Council.
“The re-election of South Africa to the Council will ensure that the developing countries in general and the African continent in particular gets a fair voice in the international maritime affairs,” said Ms Chikunga.
Ms Chikunga further highlighted several other factors in which South Africa remains a central player towards the IMO and the world’s pursuit of particularly sustainable development of oceans economies.
According to Ms Chikunga, shipping which is responsible for more than 80% of global trade, continues to play a very critical and prominent role in connecting people worldwide which phenomenon she said placed the IMO at the epicentre of ensuring that such global activities were accomplished seamlessly, without unnecessary hindrances.
She said: “International trade is very central and critical to many African countries, whether landlocked or coastal states. In that regard, the Africa Union took a conscious decision to adopt the 2050 African Maritime Integrated Strategy (AIMS) which seeks to provide a broad framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of the African Maritime Domain for wealth creation. South Africa is actively operationalizing the provisions of that Strategy.
For its role in global maritime trade transport, Ms Chikunga said South Africa has eight (8) commercial ports that handle in excess of 13 100 international ship traffic a year and approximately 300 million tonnes of cargo annually.
Geographically, along with its own infrastructure, the country was strategically located on one of the major vital shipping lanes known as the ‘Cape Route’ that connects east and west seas thereby placing the country among critical role-players in world maritime affairs.
These factors according to Ms Chikunga were significant given that the IMO plays a crucial role towards the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially on climate change and gender equality, and South Africa is well placed to continue to support the initiatives through collaborative efforts with relevant stakeholders.
This she reflected on as a United Nations led conference is underway in Cape Town this week, looking at regional collaborations on the implementation of the ‘Large Marine Ecosystem Approach’ as an instrument towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 14. The conference is being held at the V&A Waterfront parallel this year’s South Africa leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18
In London on Tuesday, Ms Chikunga also impressed on the IMO gathering that alongside development, there also are issues of safety and security that are crucial to orderly management of the oceans.
“In support of international efforts to bring security and stability in the broader Indian Ocean under the Djibouti Code of Conduct, South Africa adopted a Strategy intending to curb acts of piracy and armed robbery of ships. In that regard, South Africa deployed her navy vessels along the Mozambique Channel as a deterrent to acts of piracy and armed robbery of ships in the southern Indian Ocean area,” said Ms Chikunga
In addition she said: “As part of our coastal State obligation, we continue to provide reliable Search and Rescue services to international shipping in our region which extends to the Antarctica.
“Furthermore, South Africa, through partnership with the IMO, has converted her highly reliable Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) to the Regional Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre Cape Town to assist ships in distress in the Region,” she said.
The South Africa bid to retain its seat on the IMO Council occurs as the southern African country prepares to host it’s inaugural IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event in 2020.
That event, tentatively scheduled for Durban, is intended to highlight the significant role of global shipping and the role of the IMO.
A group of South Africans sailing the Indian Ocean parallel the coastline of Mozambique are counting their lucky stars after their yacht ran into difficulties on Thursday morning and sank shortly after they were rescued.
The incident involving the yacht named ‘Kinda Magic’ with four occupants on board was confirmed by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town, which picked up a distress signal from the yacht early on Thursday morning and immediately scrambled a rescue effort through calls to vessels sailing in the vicinity.
In a report on Thursday, the MRCC said four occupants of the yacht – all South African but whose personal identities are known but yet to be officially released – were soon plucked from their life raft by a passing oil/chemical tanker, the Panama registered MT Mersini, after they had abandoned the yacht; and are currently en route to the Comores.
According to ship tracking website, maritimetraffic.com, the MT Mersini, owned by the Mersini Shipping Company, was sailing from Durban on its way to the Jebel Ali port in the United Arab Emirates.
In Cape Town on Thursday, the MRCC said the centre had picked up a distress call from the South African yacht, ‘Kinda Magic’, at approximately 06:50 on Thursday morning while the yacht was sailing the Indian Ocean, some 215 km off the coast of Ilha Do Fogo and approximately 175 km directly from shore in the Mozambique channel.
“The distress notification was received by means of an EPIRB (a vessel distress beacon) activation and relayed by means of the COSPAS-SARSAT Systems (the Satellite Search and Rescue system which is part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System).
“MRCC Cape Town immediately responded to the distress notification, with further investigation indicating that the yacht was in the process of sinking. After identifying vessels that might be diverted to assist, the vessel “MT MERSINI” was contacted through Maritime Radio, based in Cape Town, and requested to divert course to the assistance of the distressed yacht.
“The vessel’s Master complied with the request and also confirmed the nature of distress as it was also received on VHF radio transmission. The vessel arrived on-scene at 08:43 local time on 16 November 2017 and all four of the crew were rescued. It was reported that they were all in good health and had sustained no injuries.
“The rescue vessel, the “MT MERSINI”, is currently en-route to port of Moroni, in Comores. The yacht sank. All emergency broadcasts, as was issued by MRCC through Maritime Radio, were cancelled.”
The Western Cape based rescue coordination centre also confirmed that regional authorities of Mozambique, Madagascar and the Comores were alerted and informed of the incident and subsequent rescue, while the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) was also brought on board in order to facilitate the repatriation of the South African sailors.
The centre expressed appreciation for the role played by the rescue vessel. “The contribution of the “MT MERSINI” , her Captain, and crew in the saving of the South African lives is greatly appreciated. The progress of the rescue vessel, and the status of the survivors, shall be monitored until arrival at its destination,” said the centre.
***Please note that this is article has since been updated to also reflect on the health condition of the rescued sailors.
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.
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.
Six fishermen were successfully evacuated from a fishing vessel off the west coast near Port Nolloth in the Western Cape during the early hours of Friday in a dramatic rescue that ensued following to the vessel running aground.
In command of the rescue effort was South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) surveyor and acting Principal Officer for the Port Nolloth region, Captain Justin Coraizin and a De Beers/SAPS team, during which Capt Coraizin personally saw to it that the men were safely evacuated in conditions he described as extremely dangerous.
Capt Coraizin said the Luderitz registered vessel, MV. Fukula, (previously, African Bounty) apparently drifted and ran aground in an unhospitable area off the Atlantic Ocean some 12,7 nautical miles, south of Port Nolloth while on route to Saldanha Bay.
“It is not clear yet how the vessel got involved in the accident in clear calm seas. When we reached it, it was already two-thirds underwater and we immediately made the effort to rescue the 6-member crew, using ropes. The vessel is lying in a very difficult position that makes it hard to reach from the shore,” said Capt Coraizin
He described the area as being in the vicinity of De Beers mining area in the Atlantic Ocean and the site of the accident as being very remote, only reachable with off-road vehicles as the terrain is very rocky and sandy.
Shortly after the accident, the crew raised an alarm that was picked by the SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town and to which Captain Cozairin and the charter vessel the Aukwatowa which was the first responded to the scene from the local port in Port Nolloth.
He said the vessel Aukwatowa had been first to reach the scene within a hour and half after incident occurred, and whereupon arrival, a rubber duck team was launched to investigate the accident. However due to dark conditions, this first effort was abandoned.
“However, we were lucky that our efforts worked well from the onset. We threw rope and it connected the first time, and after tightening it hard around some rocks, we managed to get each crewmen to climb towards shore and fortunately, each one of them was safely evacuated. The rescue effort took about 45 minutes,” said Capt Coraizin.
The rescue team had very limited – less than an hour window to get the crew to safety as the tide was coming in, said Capt Coraizin.
He said the fishing vessel had about 2500liters of diesel onboard and it appeared to be leaking. “We are closely monitoring the situation and taking such measures are are necessary to contain any spillage while we continue with our investigation of the incident,” he said.