South Africa joins the world in declaring seafarers ‘essential workers’; IMO

Pretoria: 09 February 2021

With the siege by the Covid-19 pandemic still gripping firmly most parts of the world and disrupting world trade since its outbreak more than a year ago, South Africa has joined more than 50 countries globally in formally ratifying a resolution that declares seafarers as essential workers.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), of which South Africa is a Member State, confirms this in a circular to members and associated institutions including the United Nations, issued on Friday, 05 February 2021.

If all goes well, this may facilitate for seafarers globally to be ‘frontline workers’ to receive a Covid-19 vaccine as a matter of high priority.

This latest development, in terms of an IMO Resolution (MSC.473), Member States…”designate seafarers as ʹkey workersʹ providing an essential service, in order to facilitate safe and unhindered movement for embarking or disembarking a vessel and consider legal possibilities for accepting internationally recognized documentation carried by seafarers as evidence of their status as ʹkey workersʹ, and for the purpose of their travel and movement for crew change;ʺ

Further, in terms of IMO Resolution GB.340/Resolution (Rev.2), the Member States are urged and agree; ‘…in accordance with applicable national laws and regulations, to: … designate seafarers as ʺkey workersʺ, for the purpose of facilitation of safe and unhindered movement for embarking or disembarking a vessel, and the facilitation of shore leave, and when necessary, to shore-based medical treatment;ʺ

According to the IMO circular on Friday, as many as 55 countries that are Member States of the organization, and two others that are associates, had ratified the resolutions by the end of the week last week, with three African countries – South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya – being among those in the list.

The list of countries or Member States of the IMO that have ratified the resolutions include Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Lebanon, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Moldova, Montenegro, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Yemen, (Associate Member: Faroes, Hong Kong (China).

The ratification of the resolutions by a growing list of IMO Member States, according to the IMO, brings to fruition a year-long strife to alleviate the plight of seafarers since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and which brought about an “ongoing crisis…impacting seafarers as well as other marine personnel.”

The resolution also has the full backing of the United Nation Assembly which recently also joined the seafarers campaign by calling on its own Member States “…to designate seafarers and other marine personnel as key workers and to implement relevant measures to allow stranded seafarers to be repatriated and others to join ships, and to ensure  access to medical care.”

The UN General Assembly’s own resolution was adopted during a session of the 75th United Nations General Assembly on 1 December 2020.

Further, the IMO resolutions ratification by the 55 Member States announced on Friday was also the second such major step recently towards improving the work conditions of seafarers during the Covid-19 pandemic situation following to the adoption earlier of the ‘Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change “ by more than 600 organisations.

According to the declaration: “Covid-19 has impacted the daily lives and wellbeing of seafarers in unprecedented ways, causing a humanitarian crisis at sea. Hundreds of thousands of seafarers have been stranded working aboard ships beyond the expiry of their contracts. As the frontline workers of the maritime industry carrying 90% of global trade, seafarers play a vital role in ensuring the global flow of goods that the world depends on.”

“The Neptune Declaration urges the implementation of four main actions to address the crisis:

  • Recognize seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to Covid-19 vaccines
  • Establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice
  • Increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes
  • Ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers
Mr Kitack Lim. Secretary General. International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

In a statement on its website, the IMO states: “IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the industry-led Neptune Declaration, which calls for seafarers to be designated as key workers and for cooperation to end the crew change crisis, which is not only putting seafarers in a desperate situation but also threatening the safety of shipping and world trade. Hundreds of thousands of seafarers around the globe are unable to leave ships, while others cannot join, due to travel restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statement further quotes Mr Lim as saying: “I am pleased to see the industry come together under the Neptune Declaration to support ways to resolve the crew change crisis. This very much reflects the calls made by IMO, its sister UN entities and more recently the United Nations General Assembly, in its recent resolution on seafarers…I encourage more companies, including charterers, to get involved and show their support for our seafarers.” 

With regards IMO Members States, Secretary-General Lim urged more Governments to designate seafarers as key workers. 

Remarking on South Africa’s ratification of the IMO resolution designating seafarers as ‘essential workers,’ SAMSA Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi in a statement on Tuesday, described the new development as progressive.

Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting CEO. South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

Mr Tilayi said: “this resolution will go a long way attending to the plight of Seafarers currently stranded on ships or unable to join a ship because of the restrictions brought about by the pandemic. We are particularly pleased by the call for Seafarers also be given priority access to Covid-19 vaccines alongside other frontline workers.

“Seafarers are the key link in the economy chain and this designation will bolster the economy recovery efforts by many states affected by the pandemic. South Africa will host the 2021 World Maritime Day Parallel event later this year and will use this event to highlight its commitment to the global protection of Seafarers.”

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SA fishermen fatalities are avoidable with strict focus on standard safety protocols by commercial fishing vessels: SAMSA

(SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 21 January 2021

The number of fatalities in South Africa’s commercial fishing subsector may have significantly reduced over the last few years – dropping to four in 2020 as was the case the year before – all thanks to active direct and indirect participation by all interested and affected parties, but even one death is one too many, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

In a Marine Notice issued this week (published on the agency’s website page: Marine Notices), SAMSA highlights some of the common challenges that lead to death of fishermen during operations when safety protocols are either not observed or poorly managed.

The notice (Marine Notice 3 of 2021) indicates that a total of four fishermen in the commercial fishing sector lost their lives in 2020 during operations – two of these incidents occurring on the West Coast (two deaths occurring in Cape Town and two others occurring in Saldanha Bay).

For comparison purposes, these were second lowest fatalities in two successive years involving commercial fishermen since 2017, the last year since double-digit deaths of fishermen were last recorded in the country after 13 fishermen lost their lives – most of them (nine) having occurred in the Port Elizabeth coastal area.

Significantly, that was the second highest double-digit number of commercial fishermen fatalities in the country in a decade after fatalities had reduced substantially to single digit numbers since 2007.

SA commerical fishermen operational casualties 2000-2020. (Source: SAMSA Maritime Notice No.1 2021)

The four fatalities recorded in 2020, according to the SAMSA notice, occurred in three incidents whereby in one case, a fisherman lost his life after a small boat capsized in large swells, and in the second incident, another fisherman lost his life after, yet a small fishing vessel lost power and the crew attempted to row ashore.

Apparently, in this incident, an oar got lost and the fisherman jumped overboard to retrieve it but got separated from the boat due to strong winds. Both these incidents occurred in the west coast (Atlantic Ocean) Paternoster area. In the third final incident, two fishermen lost their lives after a small fishing vessel capsized in the surf off Rooi Els also on the West Coast.

According to SAMSA in the Marine Notice, all three incidents involved small vessels measuring less than 10 meters in length, notably, as was the case in the two previous years (2018/2019) when three and four fishermen fatalities were recorded respectively.

The Marine Notice lists four reasons for the capsizing of small vessels as ‘being at seas in unsuitable conditions’, ‘hauling of anchors over the side of the board and not the bow’, being ‘too close to the shore’ and ‘overloading’.

A tragic incident counter-measure to save lives, says SAMSA; is the regular necessary use of flotation aids within the surf zone.

With regards incidents involving the falling overboard of fishermen – and apparently the single largest category leading to deaths after the capsizing of small vessels – deaths occur when fishermen are ‘shooting or hauling fishing gear’, ‘at night when the vessel is steaming’ and ‘recently during an unfortunate incident, after abandoning the vessels in rough seas.’

(SAMSA File Photo)

“To reduce this reason for death (falling overboard), the following steps should be taken onboard:

  • flotation aids are/(must be) worn at all times on deck where the nature of the work can lead to a crew member being knocked overboard,
  • crew members that go on deck while there is no fishing operation should never be alone. Skippers are encouraged to introduce a buddy system where there are always two (2) crew members together, this is especially important at night; and
  • when working near or at the side of the vessel safety harnesses should be worn.
  • skippers and officers to take into consideration the dangers of fatigue due to prolonged fishing operations and to emphasize the importance of safety briefings.”

The agency further states: “SAMSA offers safety workshops in communities that operate small vessels. If you would like our Fishing Safety Specialist to visit your community, please contact Selwyn Bailey on 041 582 2138 or sbailey@samsa.or.za. SAMSA will engage fishing vessel operators on the substance abuse issue on board vessels as a matter of urgency.”

In addition to the notice mentioned here, SAMSA is releasing three other Marine Notices on (1) Accredited Training Institutions and Programs (2) List of approved Medical Practitioners and (3) Temporary Closure of the Naval Architecture Services Office in Durban.

With regards the latter, SAMSA states: “The Durban Naval Architect Office will temporarily close until further notice due to unforeseen circumstance. All applications for naval architect applications and requests will be processed by the Cape Town Naval Architect Office until further notice. Any applications to the Durban Office will be transferred to the Cape Town Office.”

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Amid a raging Covid-19 pandemic, SAMSA and Absa Bank collaborate to bring relief to poverty stricken subsistence fishermen.

Pretoria: 31 December 2020

Year 2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as having been the hardest year for most people, due largely to the spate and still ongoing ravages of the coronavirus SARS-2 (Covid-190) pandemic currently gripping the world since its outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

The hardship for communities already steeped in poverty compounded by among other things, low rates of education and high rates of unemployment, has become more pronounced by the introduction of national lockdowns by Governments, in an attempt to slow down the spread of the Covid-19 infections.

In South Africa, among such communities are those of rural coastal regions made up of the country’s four provinces bordering its 3 200 kilometre coastline, from the Atlantic Ocean in the west through to the Indian Ocean in the east, and who irk support for their daily living through subsistence fishing.

Touched by the plight of specifically these rural coastal communities, and in a positive response to a Government call for support, in September 2020, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in collaboration with commercial bank, Absa and with assistance by the Moses Kotane Institute, launched a corporate social investment project intended to extend support to these communities in three of the coastal provinces: KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.

Its aim, according to SAMSA, would be to bring about relief in two practical ways; firstly a once-off supply of food parcels to households in the three provinces, as well as training in basic maritime skills (mainly fishing related) as well as basic business management and entrepreunerial skills for subsistence fishermen including unemployed youths. Focus of the latter would primarily be on communities in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, with Northern Cape scheduled for the near future.

“This intervention was conceptualised to cover identified small-scale fishing communities in the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal, with a plan to expand the project to other provinces beyond COVID-19. The project will focus on 47 cooperatives in Port St. Johns and Coffee Bay in the Eastern Cape, as well as 48 community cooperatives in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Rural fishermen on the banks of the Orange River pictured earlier in December 2020

“Through the training intervention, SAMSA commits to ensuring safety awareness at sea and capacitating the coastal fishing community / fishermen through sustainable interventions that will assist them in their career and business endeavours,” said SAMSA in a statement.

On precisely the choice of these particular communities in the specific areas, SAMSA explained: “South Africa has a long history of coastal communities utilising marine resources for various purposes. Many of these communities and fishers have been marginalised through apartheid practices and previous fisheries management systems. In 2007, the government was compelled through an equality court ruling to redress the inequalities suffered by these traditional fishers. The Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal are some of the previously marginalised provinces, hence their choice as the first two provinces to be targeted by this intervention.”

Jointly funded by SAMSA and Absa to the tune of R3-million, the roll-out of the programme kicked off on the second last week of October – with food distribution occurring parallel the start of the fishermen’s skills development.

Food parcel distribution for 595 people first took place in the Eastern Cape region comprising the Alfred Nzo and King Dalindyebo Municipalities (Mbizana & Coffee Bay), following to which was Ray Nkonyeni Municipality in southern KwaZulu-Natal (500 people) and thereafter, communities in the Dawid Kruiper Municipality on the banks of the Orange River, in Upington, Northern Cape.

In the videos below, we reflect on this food distribution project in Northern Cape, where the event was also attended and addressed by SAMSA’s acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, accompanied by SAMSA’s head of Corporate Affairs and Government Relations, Mr Vusi September.

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Vendeé Globe Yacht Race: Sailor survives yacht sinking incident south of Cape Town.

(SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 02 December 2020

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.”

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SAMSA launches probe into capsized fishing boat, with loss of life, off the Cape west coast

(SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 27 November 2020

An investigation is underway into the circumstances of the capsizing of a fishing boat off the coast of the Western Cape, in the vicinity of Rooi Els on Thursday afternoon and during which one fisherman died, three sustained minor injuries and one still missing, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed.

In a statement in Pretoria on Friday, SAMSA said the fatal incident reportedly involved an under 9 metre crayfish boat, with five men on board.

According to SAMSA, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was alerted to the incident at about 12.48pm and raced to the scene. However, on arrival at the site of the capsized crayfish boat, the rescue teams found at least one of the fishing crew had passed away, three others sustained minor injuries and one other missing.

The three survivors reached the shoreline safely.

“SAMSA has appointed a surveyor to investigate the incident. SAMSA will also involve a Welfare Officer for providing counselling to the survivors and families of all affected parties,” said the agency.

Meanwhile in a separate report on its website, the NSRI said it had been alerted to the incident by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) .

The NSRI then scrambled its Gordons Bay and Kleinmond sea rescue teams, who along with the Western Cape EMS rescue squad, the SA Police Services (SAPS), GB Med Sec ambulance services, Overberg Fire and Rescue Services and the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter raced to the scene of the incident.

“On arrival on the scene it was confirmed that (five) 5 adult male fishermen, believed to all be from Mitchell’s Plain, were on a local crayfish boat that capsized in the surf just off-shore of Rooi Els. (Three) 3 of the fishermen had managed to reach the shoreline safely.

“A search commenced for (two) 2 fishermen who were missing and who were not accounted for. During the search one of the missing fishermen was located in the surf and he was recovered onto a sea rescue craft and sadly the fisherman, age 48, has been declared deceased. A Police Dive Unit responded and a dive search was conducted.

“Despite an extensive sea, air and shoreline search there remains no sign of the remaining one missing fisherman. Police divers are tasked to continue in an ongoing search operation for the missing fisherman. The casualty boat remains washed up in amongst rocks on the shoreline.

“The body of the deceased fisherman was brought to the NSRI Gordons Bay sea rescue station and the body of the man has been taken into the care of WC Government Health Forensic Pathology Services. Police have opened an inquest docket,” reported the NSIR.

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Organisations hard at work picking nurdles off the Cape Coast while investigation of source continues: SAMSA

Sudden surfacing of nurdles along the southern Cape coastline still under investigation according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) (SAMSA Photo File)

Pretoria: 17 November 2020

An investigation into how millions of nurdles came to envelope the Cape coast, from south of Port Elizabeth through George and nearby towns is currently still underway, while an effort is made to clean the coastline of the small plastic pellets.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a statement in Pretoria on Tuesday. This was a further reaction to reports last month of the discovery of nurdles across the southern Cape coastline – from Fish Hoek in False Bay to Plettenberg Bay and lately, along the Eastern Cape coastline.

(Video courtersy of African News Agency [ANA])

According to SAMSA on Tuesday, the source of the nurdles is still unknown but the agency confirmed that this latest incident is not related to the spillage that occured in KwaZulu-Natal in 2017.

“Authorities are working hard to address the nurdles recently washing up along certain regions of the south Western Cape coastline from Fish Hoek in False Bay to Goukamma Marine Protected Area and Plettenberg Bay.

“The nurdles are also reported to be washing up along the Eastern Cape coastline, the exact locations are still to be confirmed.

“The authorities, including, the Departments of Transport, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, local authorities, NGOs and volunteer groups have all been working consistently to clean up nurdles washing up on beaches,” said SAMSA

The organisation described nurdles as “… small plastic pellets used in the manufacture of plastic products. In the raw stage (pre-moulded and packaged) they are not toxic to touch, but probably shouldn’t be chewed given the unknown synthetics that make up the pellets.

“However, once released into the marine environment they have a high attraction to harmful substances such as land-based pesticides, herbicides, other organic pollutants as well as heavy metals that end up in the ocean. At this stage they are very harmful to life, especially to wildlife when mistaken for food.”

SAMSA said: “The source of the nurdles is not yet confirmed but an investigation is currently ongoing and being led by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). These nurdles are not related to the spillage that took place in Kwazulu-Natal in 2017.

“While the investigation into the source of the nurdles is being undertaken, SpillTech has been appointed to assist and conduct clean-up efforts along the affected sections of coastline. Spilltech will also be storing the nurdles collected through clean-up efforts and are working with authorities, NGOs and volunteer groups to identify collection points and arrange the pick-up of nurdles.

“The extent of the clean-up operation is significant and is anticipated that the removal of nurdles from the affected coastline will continue for some time to come. The authorities and NGOs look forward to working with SpillTech as the lead agent for the duration of cleanup-operations.

“Spilltech can be contacted on 063 404 2128 for information on collection points and pick up of collected nurdles,” said SAMSA

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Yachts given reprieve from Covid-19 rules to enter SA ports: SAMSA

Pretoria: 09 November 2020

With Covid-19 entry restrictions still on for crossborder travels, the world’s yachting community will find relief in the special dispensation by South Africa allowing them to call into the country’s ports.

That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Marine Notice No.50 published on the agency’ website on Monday.

The notice titled: “COVID-19: Humanitarian Relief Project to Support Stranded Yachts to enter South Africa during Lockdown Period” dated 4 November 2020 states that, the implementation of the new measures is in recognition that Covid-19 restrictions in the maritime sector, particularly seafaring, have had highly negative consequences for sailors worldwide.

“The issue of stranded yachts has become topical in the past months and it is a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic that had dire consequences for the ocean cruising community. This community utilizes a wide range of yachts and small pleasure craft to navigate their way across the oceans and who primarily sail the world’s oceans as a way of life.

‘As a response to Covid-19, many countries around the world closed their borders and making it extremely difficult for sailors to proceed with their traditional sailing voyage along the Indian Ocean The current weather patterns along the Indian Ocean (are) posing a huge risk to yachts and sailors.

With these and related issues in mind, says the notice: “The South African government is continuously reviewing its processes and procedures to identify challenges within the maritime sphere during the Covid-19 Pandemic. As such, the government has found that there is a need to address the challenges faced by the yachting industry.”

In terms of the new measures, according to SAMSA, “Sou1h A!ica will offer a safe corridor and humanitarian services to yachts stranded along the Indian Ocean from 09 November 2020 to 15 December 2020.

“Yachts falling within this category must only utilise Yacht Clubs wthin the port of Richards Bay, port of Durban (both Indian Ocean) and port of Cape Town (straddles both the Indian and Atlantic Ocean). All yachts will be eligible to receive all services including stores, provisions, refuelling, repairs, maintenance and disembarkation of foreign sailors.”

The SAMSA notice further gives operational procedures on how relevant applications and related matters will be handled by the various government departments and institutions in conjuction with sailing communities organisation, with emphasis that: “these operational procedures are only applicable to yachts that fall within the humanitarian scope as outlined.”

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Rescued crew of sunken vessel on their way home: SAMSA

South African rescue mission personnel on board the country’s research vessel, the SA Agulhas II near Gough Island to placate 62 stranded seafarers – a majority of them South African – whose fishing vessel sank a mile off the Atlantic Ocean island a week ago. Bad weather affected the rescue mission but all is reported to be well now.

Pretoria: 22 October 2020

After losing time battling inclement weather characterised by strong winds, South Africa’s research vessel, the SA Agulhas II is on its way back from the Gough Island, after successfully rescuing the crew of the vessel that sunk just a mile away from the remote Atlantic Ocean island last week.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which is coordinating the rescue and safe return of the 62 crew members who were onboard the Balize flagged research vessel, Geo Searcher, when it hit rocks and took water before it sunk to the bottom of the sea near Gough Island on Thursday last week.

Some of the seafarers of the Geo Searcher that sank a mile of the Atlantic Ocean island known as Gough Island, now safely onboard the SA Agulhas II and on their way back home to South Africa. (Photo: SAMSA)

On board the Geo Searcher at the time, were 47 South African, three (5) Portuguese, one (1) British, two (2) Ghanaian, one (1) Indonesian, four (4) Namibian and two (2) Tristan citizens,” said the updated statement.

On Wednesday, SAMSA reported the rescue crew of the SA Agulhas II hurriedly dispatched last week to fetch the seafarers off the stricken research fishing vessel as having encountered wild stormy weather on approach to the Gough Island.

“Bad weather with gale  force winds has stalled the rescue operation since Tuesday  (20 October 2020). Weather forecast for the  coming 24 hours is also not looking any better but is being closely monitored. The evacuation will commence as soon as the weather subsides.The  weather is  reported to possibly  subside  from Thursday  (22nd October 2020),” said SAMSA

On Thursday morning, SAMSA reported all as going well with the rescue mission, and that the SA Agulhas II was on its way back to South Africa.

“The SA Agulhas II is heading to TRISTAN Da CUNHA to drop the two Tristanian  survivors from where the vessel will then proceed to Cape Town.

“Arrival in Cape Town will be dependent on weather conditions that may affect the sailing time. All indications are that it will take approximately 4 to 5 days before the vessel arrives in Cape Town.” said SAMSA.

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Vaal River tragic boating incident under investigation: SAMSA

Pretoria: 19 October 2020

(SAMSA FILE PHOTO)

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) says it has begun a preliminary investigation into the tragic vessel incident that occurred on the Vaal Dam this past weekend and which reportedly claimed the lives of five while two others were injured.

SAMSA in a statement in Pretoria on Monday said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has commenced with the preliminary enquiry to the cause of the small vessel tragic incident that happened this past weekend on the Vaal River.

“The incident took place on Saturday, 17 October, where a vessel capsized with seven (7) persons on board. Two (2) survivors were picked up by another vessel and after a search, five (5) bodies were recovered by the SAPS (South African Police Services) divers. The casualty vessel was also recovered.

“SAMSA is an agency of the Department of Transport whose mandate includes the regulation of inland waterways (only waterways accessible to the public) within the Republic and to ensure boating safety on our waters.

“Condolences are conveyed to the families of the deceased.”

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Fishing research vessel with SA group sinks off Gough Island; crew evacuation underway – SAMSA

Photo of the Geo Searcher fishing research vessel, courtery of MarineTraffic.com

This news story has been updated with new information from SAMSA

Pretoria: 16 October 2020

The South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed the sinking of a fishing research vessel named the Geo Searcher off the Gough island on Thursday afternoon while sailing with 64 crew on board, a majority South African.

“All 62 crew have safely been recovered from the vessel and are now on Gough Island  with one crew member having sustained slight injuries,” reported SAMSA in a media statement on Thursday evening.

On Friday morning SAMSA added: “”A multi-organisational effort to collect the 62 seafarers of the now sunken, Belize registered vessel, GEO SEARCHER, is underway.

“SAMSA’S MRCC, Department of Environmental Affairs (SA AGULHAS II), and AMSOL along with the representatives and owners of the stricken vessel, have collaborated in arranging for the SA Research vessel SA AGULHAS II to sail this morning (Friday 16th Oct) for Gough Island in the south Atlantic Ocean to collect the seafarers who had abandoned their vessel after it had reportedly struck a rock and started taking on water.

“The stricken seafarers are 47 South African, 3 Portuguese, 1 British,2 Ghanaian, 1 Indonesian, 4 Namibian and 2 Tristan citizens,”said the updated statement.

According to SAMSA, the Geo Searcher had been within a mile off Gough Island when it experience problems and took on water after it reportedly collided with underwater rocks.

SAMSA’s Sea Watch and Rescue center in Cape Town reported that: “At 15/1212LT, MRCC (Maritime Rescue and Coordinating Centre) received a call from a vessel representative in Cape Town advising of a fishing vessel ‘GEO SEARCHER’ / V3WL8. Flag: Belize, which had hit a rock in the morning and started taking in water, and that crew was abandoning the vessel. The vessel was 0.8 nautical miles (NM) north west of Gough Island as per position provided. There was 62 crew on-board the vessel.

The centre immediately sought to mobilise other sailing vessels within the vicinity of the accident, but this was eventually called off after crew of the sunken vessel were reported to have safely abandoned it.

The MFV Geo Searcher off Nightingale Island on 19 September 2020 prior to its accident and sinking on Thursday 15October after reportedly hiting a rock off Gough Island. (Photo courtersy of Tristan da Cuhna News)

According to MarineTraffic, the sunken vessel was a 69.2 meters long and 12.8 meters wide research/survey vessel built in 1982, with a carrying capacity of 1263 t DWT.

On Friday, SAMSA said: “”The SA AGULHAS II is expected to take about three (3_ days to reach the island, if weather conditions allow. The vessel is carrying two helicopters onboard which will greatly assist in the transfer of the stricken seafarers from the island to the vessel. It is expected that the vessel will then make its return voyage arriving by possibly next week Friday or Saturday.

SA Agulhas II

“The South African search and rescue region covers approximately 28 million km² of ocean stretching half way across to South America and half way to Australia and includes the Antarctic area up to the South Pole. The area is one of the biggest regions in the world and covers some of the most treacherous seas on the planet.

“The coordination and collaboration efforts between SAMSAs’ MRCC and many other organisations deliver the service to seafarers in peril on our seas. Limited resources and the vastness of the area creates challenges but with these efforts, seafarers can rest assured that every possible effort will be made to render them the lifesaving service they may require.”

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