Crew of stricken Taiwanese trawler rescued off the Indian Ocean. Warning issued about floating unmanned vessel

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One of two liferafts filled with crew members of a Taiwanese fishing trawler, the Hsiang Fuh No.6 who were rescued at sea in the Indian Ocean after abandoning their vessel  reportedly following a fire breakout on board on Sunday.The 30 crew members are currently on their way to Durban, South Africa

Pretoria: 11 July 2017

Ocean traffic to the east of South Africa on the Indian Ocean north east of Durban has been warned to be on watch for a stranded fishing trawler floating aimlessly, unmanned, after its crew abandoned it following to a fire breakout on board on Sunday.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on Tuesday confirmed that it had coordinated a rescue effort for the 30 crew members of the Taiwanese fishing trawler named as the Hsiang Fuh No. 6, after it had abandoned the vessel reportedly due to fire on board.

According to the website, marinetraffic.com, the Hsiang Fuh No. 6 is a 21 year old fishing trawler, measuring 45.65 meters in length and 8.3m in breadth, with a deadweight of some 489 tons.

In a statement on Tuesday, SAMSA reported that the fishing trawler’s crew, some with slight burns, had been successfully rescued and would be arriving in Durban some time on Tuesday (11 July, 2017).

According to SAMSA, the organization’s Maritime Rescue Co-ordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town was notified that a container ship, the Ever Diadem, had spotted the Hsiang Fuh No. 6, on fire, and its crew were abandoning ship on two life rafts; about 736 kilometers East-North-East from Durban and some 496 kilometers from the closest shore.

1The rescue coordinating centre requested the Ever Diadem to recover the survivors, with an additional urgent request (MAYDAY) message relayed also to other vessels in the vicinity to assist in the rescue.

Bulk carriers, the Hampton Bay and SBI Antares, responded and the SBI Antares eventually assisted with the rescue.

“All the survivors were picked up – 16 crew by the Ever Diadem and 14 by the SBI Antares. Both vessels are proceeding to Durban to disembark the survivors.

“The survivors, mostly Philippine, Indonesian, Taiwanese and Vietnam nationals are fine with some reported to have suffered burn injuries. The necessary arrangements for the safe delivery and repatriation of the sailors were made and they will be met by representatives of their countries on arrival in Durban.

“MRCC is currently engaged in efforts to evacuate one of the crew that suffered burns from the Ever Diadem, 60 km off Durban. The air medical evacuation shall be done with the assistance of a South African Air Force and NetCare Paramedics,” said SAMSA in a statement.

SAMSA said its surveyors and investigators would meet the survivors on their arrival

The organization further commended  efforts of the Masters and crew of the Ever Diadem and SBI Antares for the valiant effort in saving the lives of the crew of the fishing vessel.

Meanwhile, SAMSA issued a warning to all seagoing traffic in that part of the Indian Ocean to be on the lookout for the stranded fishing trawler.

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Arrested Taiwanese fishing trawler still in detention

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Pretoria: 12 September 2016

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is continuing with investigations of a Taiwanese fishing trawler nabbed off the southern part of the Indian Ocean and detained in Cape Town at the weekend on suspicion of illegal activity.

The arrest of the vessel known as the Chin Jen Wen; was conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) late last week after the trawler was spotted through the department’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) apparently entering the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from Mossel Bay towards  Cape Town.

According to DAFF, suspicion had been aroused as the vessel had not applied for permission to be in the area. Fisheries protection vessels including The Victoria Mxenge were then set successfully on its pursuit and arrest eventually culminating in its detention at the port of Cape Town.

While in detention under the Marine Living Resources Act, according to DAFF spokesman, Ms Bomikazi Molapo; the vessel would undergo a thorough inspection conducted by all relevant law enforcement stakeholders, including SAMSA – the country’s maritime safety authority.

The Taiwanese trawler is the latest to be arrested and detained by South African authorities in 2016 due to suspicion of illegal or unauthorized fishing activity on the country’s waters.

In a recent incident also off the Indian Ocean along the Eastern Cape coast, a set of Chinese fishing vessels were arrested on suspicion of illegal activity. While initially suspected of illegal fishing, owners were eventually fined for a variety of law transgressions relating to general management of the vessels.

In Pretoria on Thursday last week, Ms Molapo said: “The Minister has undertaken to intensify the fight against any form of illegal fishing in our exclusive economic zone to ensure that our resources are utilised for the benefit of the country to reduce poverty and ensure food security for all. South African waters remain a sovereign jurisdiction and its marine living resources will be protected by the Department,” she said.

In Cape Town at the weekend, the Taiwanese vessel was inspected by SAMSA to ensure that it complied with all relevant international maritime conventions relevant to that type of vessel. SAMSA also used its jurisdiction as a Coastal State to ensure that the vessel was of no threat to the State from a safety and pollution perspective.

The investigation established that the vessel was non-compliant with International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution (MARPOL) as there was no record in the Oil Record Book of oily waste having been landed ashore or discharged through the oily water separator. The vessel remains in detention pending finalization of the inspection on Tuesday.

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