NSRI Still Bay saved 7 crew before boat sank
Last night NSRI Still Bay volunteer sea rescue duty saved the lives of seven crewmen just five minutes before the commercial fishing boat sank 44 kms offshore,
The boat Danella II was going deep sea fishing when it started to take on water from a hole that suddenly developed mid ship.The skipper turned the 26-foot boat around and started heading for shore while he and the crew tried to pump water out as fast as possible.
Enrico Menezies, NSRI Still Bay station commander, said NSRI crew were activated by Transnet National Ports Authority following a request for assistance from the boat that was South West of Still Bay between Still Bay and Witsand at Alpha Bunker fishing grounds at 6.40 pm, 20 March. The boat was accompanied by two other boats.
“The water intake through the hole could only be partially stemmed with the boat underway, so while pumping out water the crew raised the alarm by calling Telkom Maritime Radio Services on the emergency radio frequency.
“Our NSRI Still Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis and responded to rendezvous with the Danella II. NSRI Witsand and NSRI AGULHAS, the SAP and the WC Government Health EMS were placed on alert. Telkom Maritime Radio Services remained in radio contact,” Menezies said.
On arrival on-scene, at 9 pm, 32 nautical miles South West of Still Bay, we found Danella II heavy in the water in choppy seas. Four of the seven crew were taken off first and transferred to the NSRI rescue craft to lighten the casualty boat.
“Everyone then continued to assist to pump water out. The boat was escorted for about five miles towards Still Bay but the size of the hole increased and a decision was taken by the skipper to vacate the ship.
“The skipper, Anthony Richards from Still Bay, made a massive effort to save his boat while ensuring the safety of his crew. It was an emotional moment when the skipper decided to abandon ship. Just five minutes after the remaining three crew members were safely taken off the casualty boat she filled with water and sank,” Menezies related.
“Only her bow remains out of the water with an air pocket trapped in the bow. We anchored the casualty boat to prevent her from drifting. The casualty boat 28 nautical miles south west of Still Bay did not sink completely.
“Telkom Maritime Radio Services are broadcasting a navigational warning to vessels in the area warning of a navigational hazard. All seven crew members were brought safely ashore. There were no injuries. The rescue operation was completed at 11.45 pm.
“The owners have not decided if a salvage operation will be attempted or if the semi sunk casualty boat will be scuttled at sea. It is unknown at this stage if the casualty boat has perhaps now sunk completely,” Menezies added.
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