Fishermen safely evacuated from sinking vessel in a dramatic rescue off the west coast of Western Cape

Port Nolloth: 24 April 2017

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.

Fishing vessel MV Fukula almost two-thirds deep in water after running aground off the west coast of the Western Cape. A rope used to evacuate its 6-crew member can be seen on the left of the picture, while equipment to contain a fuel spillage is also visible to the right of the vessel.

“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.

SHOCKED BUT SAFE: The 6-member crew of the MV Fukula which was evacuated in a dramatic rescue operation off the west coast of the Western Cape after its fishing vessel went aground in unhospitable terrain some 12.7 nautical miles south of Port Nolloth. They are (From Left), Mr Nkandi Lysias (skipper), Mr Simon Shikong (mate), Philemon Mbungu (chief engineer), Mr Shimbilinga Hafeni (bosun), Mr Petrus Nekamba (cook) and Mr Matthew Theodore (deck hand)

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.

THE RESCUE TEAM: Captain Justin Coraizin (second left in green overalls) with members of the rescue team that braved and early morning to evacuate a crew of fishing vessel that went aground off the Atlantic Ocean coast on Friday night.

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.

End

Fire-ravaged Liberian flagged cargo vessel at port of Ngqurha in mop up phase: SAMSA

Pretoria: 16 February 2017

Liberia flagged cargo vessel, APL Austria resting uneasily at the port of Ngqrurha near Port Elizabeth yesterday as a mop up phase began after rescue operations succeeded in putting out a raging fire on board the vessel since Sunday afternoon.
Liberia flagged cargo vessel, APL Austria resting uneasily at the port of Ngqurha near Port Elizabeth yesterday as a mop up phase began after rescue operations succeeded in putting out a raging fire on board the vessel since Sunday afternoon.

With the fire that raged for days on board the APL Austria docked at the port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth now effectively extinguished, the vessel’s rescue has entered a mop-up phase during which debris and contaminated water filling up some of its cargo holds will be dispersed with, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported overnight. 

“The good news is that the fire on board is completely extinguished and port operations continued as per normal (with) two additional large container ships docking at the port today (Wednesday) where for a while no ships were allowed into the port while the APL AUSTRIA was on fire” said Captain Daron Burgess, SAMSA’s technical manager for the Southern Region.

Some of the charred remains of containers being removed from the fire ravaged cargo vessel APL Austria docked at the port of Ngqura

According to Capt. Burgess the mop-up involves removal of damaged containers and containment of their content. The teams will also drain out approximately 3000 cubic meters (three thousand) of water, ash and residue inside of No.4 cargo hold of the vessel – a disposal that will be preceded by a scientific analysis of the water to determine its toxicity and related pollutants to the environment prior to dumping.

“The plan is that if the water contains no marine pollutants, then it will be transferred into ballast water tanks on board. However, if containing marine pollutants, we will have to re-assess the situation and most probably will have to discharge ashore in approved receptacles and to be disposed of according to DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) requirements,’ said Capt. Burgess.

Meanwhile, he said; two (2) fire experts had already begun inspecting the vessel to try and establish what caused the fire that ensued on Sunday afternoon while the APL Austria was sailing westward in the Indian Ocean alongside the South African coast towards the Cape Peninsula.

According to SAMSA’s Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town, the Liberia flagged cargo vessel was approximately 30 nautical miles south west of Jeffreys Bay – some 50-70 kilometers west of Port Elizabeth – when it raised an alarm about the fire on board at about 5pm.

A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.
A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.

The MRCC redirected the 72 000 ton, 280m wide vessel back to the port of Port Elizabeth overnight and later had it dock at the port of Ngqura by Monday where rescue operations both on board, on the ground as well as on water, got fully activated; with the vessel’s crew having been successfully evacuated.

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Last night, Capt. Burgess said initial inspection indicated that there was not much damage caused to the vessel itself by the fire. “No visual structural damages to No.4 cargo hold at this stage,’ he said adding that there were still about 16 containers remaining on board (ROB) on deck on top of No.4 hatch – two of which appeared to contain rice (25kg bags) and smoldering. “The plan is to discharge (these) ashore tomorrow and douse with water and de-stuff into skips – no immediate danger,” he said.

“There are also about 10 containers aft of accommodation (not at all related to fire) to discharge to accommodate replenishment of CO2-Room with 400 x 45kgs CO2 cylinders. The area is presently covered by these containers as it is situated aft of the accommodation and underdeck,” he said.

Centre aft pontoon of No.4 cargo hatch which opened up after an explosion on board. An investigation into the cause of the fire is now formally underway according to SAMSA

For continued maintenance of a safe working environment and to prevent any possible pollution of the seawater around the vessel, containment booms would stay deployed while overflows of contaminated water off the vessel would be sampled for analysis.

“All parties are satisfied with the progress of operation,” said Capt. Burgess.

End

 

Blaze on board Liberian flagged vessel in Port Elizabeth contained: Monitoring continues

Pretoria: 14 February 2017

The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of
The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of

A fire that broke out on a giant Liberian flagged container vessel, the APL Austria while sailing west off the eastern ocean of South Africa on Sunday has been contained, but its situation is still being closely monitored, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported on Tuesday.

The 71 867 tons, 280 meter-wide container carrier on which fire broke out in one of its cargo holds on Sunday afternoon while sailing 30 nautical miles south-west of Cape St Francis – some 50-70 kilometers west of the city of Port Elizabeth – had to be diverted back to the port of Ngqurha on Sunday night in order for rescue operations including firefighting to be conducted.

With the crew evacuated – an operation overseen by the SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town, throughout Sunday night, Monday and early Tuesday, firefighters both on board and outside the vessel, inclusive of tugs from the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) battled the fire, while efforts were made to remove some of the cargo on board to safety.

A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.
A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.

On Tuesday afternoon, SAMSA Centre for Shipping Executive Head, Captain Nigel Campbell reported that the battle against the blaze was being won progressively.

“It appears that the fire in the hold has been extinguished but the space has not been deemed safe to enter as yet. There are still smouldering containers on deck which are being fought by the fire brigade, a harbour tug is providing boundary cooling. Containers with hazardous cargo are being removed from the area around the fire,” said Captain Campbell.

He added that: “The Joint Operations Committee sits shortly to monitor progress against the plan.”

End

 

Firefighters battle blaze on board Liberian flagged vessel in Port Elizabeth!

The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of
The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of shipspotting.com)

Pretoria: 13 February 2017

The cause of a major blaze on board the APL Austria, a Liberian flagged cargo vessel now docked at Ngqura harbour, some 30km east of Port Elizabeth, may take time to determine; the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) said on Monday as firefighters continued to battle the blaze earlier in the day.

According to Captain Daron Burgess, a Principal Officer for SAMSA’s Southern region; rescue services were set in motion on Sunday afternoon, at approximately 5.49pm, after the SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) located in Cape Town was alerted of a fire on board the container vessel.

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At the time, according to Capt Burgess, the vessel was 30 nautical miles South-West of Cape St Francis – some 50-70 kilometers west of the city of Port Elizabeth.

He said when alerting the MRCC, the crew of the vessel had been of the impression that the fire was on the vessel’s “No.3 cargo hold” only to be later established as having broke out in its “No.4 cargo hold”.

The APL Austria built in 2007 is about 280 meters in length overall,  with a beam of about 40m and a gross tonnage of about  71 867 tons and a deadweight of some 72 807t.

“The vessel was instructed to proceed to Algoa Bay anchorage and she arrived at the anchorage area at 02h00 this morning, Monday 13 February 2017. There are several containers containing hazardous cargo on deck above No.4 cargo hold, but fortunately none of them were on fire,” said Capt Burgess.

According to Capt Burgess, relevant senior officials of the port of Ngqurha, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and SAMSA boarded the vessel from about 4am on Monday for an assessment of its conditions while firefighters, inclusive of three TNPA harbour tugs assisted with the firefighting operation by providing boundary cooling.

“Lots of black smoke was emanating from the vessel. The weather conditions have been favourable since the incident occurred, with a light South-Easterly wind. The vessel heaved anchor at about O5hOO this morning and was instructed to proceed further out in the bay to clear the other vessels at the anchorage area. The tugs continued with boundary cooling during the morning hours; during the night the vessel used their on board fire extinguishing media.

“After the fire was relatively under control, arrangements were made to take the vessel into the Port of Ngqura with the Metro Fire Fighters on standby and to deal with the situation upon arrival alongside. The vessel entered the Port of Ngqura at approximately 10h00 this morning. It is not yet clear at this stage what caused the fire. An investigation will be undertaken once the fire is extinguished to try and establish the cause of the fire,” reported Capt Burgess.

End