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.
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.”
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.