Twenty two fishermen rescued from a sunken vessel off Cape South Coast. Authorities to investigate: SAMSA

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(File photo) Sailors rescued off the coast off the coast of South Africa

CAPE TOWN: 08 December 2017

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) says it will begin investigation into the sinking of a fishing vessel in the Western Cape early on Friday morning and from which about 22 fishermen were successfully rescued.

According to SAMSA in a statement on Friday morning, the incident involving the fishing vessel, Ellis C, owned by the Selvak Investments group, got into trouble and sunk in  rough sea conditions shortly after its entire crew of 22 was rescued some 70 kilometers south west of Danger Point off the Cape South Coast.

The SAMSA statement issued about an hour ago read as follows:

Cape Town, South Africa, December 08, 2017:  The South African Maritime Safety Authority’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) coordinated the rescue of 22 crew members in the early hours of this morning after their fishing boat encountered rough seas  approximately 70km south west of Danger Point off the Cape South Coast.

The fishing vessel Ellis C, owned by Sevlak Investments, sunk after the crew was rescued.

The vessel took in water after wrestling with waves of approximately three to four meters in height and with wind blowing at around 30km per hour.

MRCC received a distress signal at 00h:49am this morning (Friday) via the Maritime Radio Service, that the fishing vessel was taking in water and starting to sink.

MRCC Chief, Jared Blows said they acted promptly to coordinate the rescue. “MRCC also used the Automatic Identification System installed at the centre for monitoring vessels to quickly identify which vessel it was and as well contacted vessels that were in close proximity to the scene.”

“Vessels that were identified to be the closest to the scene were requested to change course to the location to assist.”

First on the scene was the I&J fishing vessel Fuchsia, following was the Realka and finally the Singaporean flagged motor tanker Aral Sea.

The Fuchsia, even with waves breaking over the stern of the partially submerged Ellis S, was able to go alongside it and transfer all 22 crew on board.

The Aral Sea stood by and provided lighting using its spotlights thereby enabling an easier handling of the transfer.

All crew members were brought to safety on board the Fuchsia. The distressed vessel sunk within minutes of them being saved from it.

The National Sea Rescue Institute was initially dispatched to assist. However, nearby ships came to the rescue.

“Rescue efforts concluded at 08:24 this morning when all rescued crew were landed safely ashore in Hermanus.”

The Fuchsia proceeded towards Hermanus with the assistance of the NSRI. The crew of the Ellis S were taken ashore to waiting medical services and other relevant authorities who attended to them.

SAMSA will conduct further investigations as to what caused the vessel to flood and eventually sink.

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Fast action out at sea saves the life of a SA Agulhas crew member: SAMSA

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Pretoria: 25 October 2017

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.

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A graphic map indicating the geographic point at sea where the SA Agulhas had to turn back and head for Mossel Bay on Tuesday night after one of its crew, a 21 year old sailor fell sick while the vessel was on its way from the East London in the Eastern Cape to Cape Town harbour.

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.

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Cape Town ferry incident under investigation: SAMSA

Update One: 14:06 (Saturday, 16 September 2017)

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Pretoria: 16 September 2017

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident involving a tourists cruise ferry in Cape Town from which about 60 people had to be rescued after it got into trouble off Robben Island on Friday, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed.

According to Captain Pierre Schutz, a senior ships examiner (deck) and deputy Principal Officer at SAMSA’s Cape Town Office, the incident involving the ferry named Thandi occurred on Friday afternoon, shortly after lunch, while it was returning from Robben Island to the port of Cape Town, with about 64 passengers on board and a crew of five.

Thandi 3The vessel  is owned and managed by Silver Buckle Trade 21, said Capt Schultz.

He said according to preliminary reports, the drama began at about 2pm (CAT) after the ferry, packed with passengers, and sailing over a choppy sea due to a surge of wind over the Atlantic Ocean, began taking water over the bow.

“She was taking water over the bow due to the swell and wind when the port engine room bilge alarm sounded.

“A crew member attended and reported to the skipper that the bilge pump couldn’t cope. A ‘May Day’ (distress call) was raised. At this stage the forward windows of the vessel were apparently broken by wave action. The main life raft was apparently swept away,” said Capt Schultz.

He said at that point, at approximately 2.18pm, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was activated and shortly thereafter, all the passengers and crew were rescued.

“This involved transfer to multiple vessels, principally the Madiba 1 and all passengers and crew were landed at Mandela Gateway by approximately 4pm. SAMSA has initiated a preliminary inquiry to determine the cause of the incident,” said Capt Schultz.

On Saturday afternoon, the vessel remained afloat and had been secured at Murray Harbour, in Robben Island, confirmed Capt Schultz.

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Please note that this article has been updated to correct the number of passengers an earlier version stated as 68. This was apparently due to erroneous inclusion of some crew members of the Thandi’s sister ferry, the Madiba I who assisted with the passenger rescue.