NSRI rescues grounded fishing vessel, saves 24 crew members

The NSRI St Francis Bay station crew rescued 24 crew members from a fishing vessel that had run aground at Shark Point. File Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

The NSRI St Francis Bay station crew rescued 24 crew members from a fishing vessel that had run aground at Shark Point. File Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 7, 2024


Members of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) rescued 24 crew members from a grounded 29 metre fishing vessel at St Francis Bay in Eastern Cape on Saturday.

Sarah Smith, NSRI St Francis Bay station commander, said: “At 10.36pm, Saturday, January 6, NSRI St Francis Bay duty crew were activated following a call to NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) from MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) reporting a local 29 metre stern trawler fishing vessel, with 24 crew onboard, running aground at Shark Point, St Francis Bay.

“The NSRI St Francis Bay rescue craft Rescue 21 was launched while NSRI rescue swimmers responded to the shoreline.

“The SA Police Services and Relay ambulance services were activated while additional emergency services were placed on alert.

“NSRI EOC, TNPA (Transnet National Ports Authority) Port of St Francis Port Control, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, Police Sea Borderline Control, NSRI St Francis Bay duty controllers and NSRI Gqeberha duty controllers, assisted MRCC in the coordination of a rescue operation,” she said.

A number of local fishing vessels and local commercial boats responded to assist, the NSRI said.

Telkom Maritime Radio Services assisted with marine VHF radio communications.

“NSRI Jeffreys Bay and NSRI Oyster Bay prepared to launch rescue craft to prepare to launch to assist,” Smith said.

“The commercial Chokka fishing vessel Nomvula attempted to assist the casualty fishing vessel, that appeared to have drifted onto rocks at a low tide during fishing operations. Nomvula was not able to get close inshore to assist and she stood by off-shore together with additional local vessels that had heeded the request for an emergency assistance.

“The skipper of the casualty vessel ordered his crew to abandon ship after she appeared to drift hard onto rocks in the low tide.

“The crew abandoned their vessel into 2 life-rafts that were launched on the stern (seaside) of the casualty vessel.

“The skipper was the last off the casualty vessel.

“All 24 crew were secured into life-jackets.

“In calm seas the life-rafts cleared the rocks and drifted seawards.

“The commercial ski-boat MOI were able to recover 2 casualty crew from a life-raft.

“NSRI St Francis Bay's rescue craft Rescue 21 recovered the remaining 22 crew from life-rafts at sea,” Smith said.

An initial medical evaluation at sea by an NSRI paramedic deemed no casualty crew to be seriously injured.

Smith said all 24 casualty crew were accounted for and they were brought to the NSRI St Francis Bay Rescue 21 rescue station, in the Port of St Francis, where they were further assessed by paramedics and all crew are not injured and safe.

“The fishing vessels that stood by at sea and who attempted to assist are commended,” Smith said.

“The skipper and crew of the commercial ski-boat MOI are commended for rescuing 2 casualty crew from a life-raft.

“NSRI St Francis Bay crew are commended for swiftly rescuing the remaining 22 crew safely at sea.

“The emergency services response was swift and is commended.

“The skipper and crew of the casualty fishing vessel are commended for safely evacuating their stricken vessel in an orderly and safe fashion.

“The two life-rafts, that were initially abandoned at sea, post the rescue, have been recovered by NSRI St Francis Bay. Maritime authorities are assessing any environmental outfall. The owners are appointing salvors to assist in the recovery of their casualty fishing vessel.

“All thoughts are with the owners and the crew of the casualty vessel in this difficult time.

“SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) are alerted to assist in the evaluation of the environmental impact in cooperation with Port authorities and environmental authorities and an investigation into the causes of the grounding will be initiated by SAMSA.

“We are appealing to public members not to approach the stricken vessel as it remains a danger particularly in the changing tides.

“While the vessel is aground on rocks, close inshore, that may change with the turning tides during Sunday.

The rescue operation was successfully completed by 11.26pm on Saturday night.


Related Topics:

oceansnsrieastern cape