At 01h33 on Tuesday the 19th of January, NSRI SimonsTown, NSRI Kommetjie and NSRI Hout Bay duty crews were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) following a Mayday distress call from the Viking Fishing Company fishing trawler Lezandi, with 14 crew onboard, reporting to be taking water and sinking approximately 10 nautical miles South West of Cape Point.
NSRI Simons Town launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski II, NSRI Kommetjie launched the Sea Rescue craft Spirit of the Vines, NSRI Hout Bay launched the Sea Rescue craft Nadine Gordimer and Albie Matthews and were responding to the last known position reported by the casualty fishing trawler.
MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) placed NSRI’s ASR (Air Sea Rescue) on alert and assisted by Telkom Maritime Radio Services a full scale search and rescue operation commenced.
WC Government Health EMS were placed on alert and the Viking Fishing Company management were alerted and they were kept updated.
The ship Sunrise Jade, a bulk carrier, reported to be in the immediate area and it was established by Telkom Maritime Radio Services in communications with the casualty fishing trawler Lezandi that in dense fog all 14 crew were abandoning their sinking fishing trawler.
Additional vessels, in the area at the time or nearby, the fishing trawlers Freesia, Armano, Cape Frio, Flame Thorn, and Dan Tago and the bulk carrier Portos, reported to be diverting to respond to the emergency.
A red distress flare was reportedly sighted in the vicinity.
It was believed at the time that Lezandi had onboard their casualty fishing trawler 2 life rafts and it was suspected that both life rafts had been deployed and that the casualty fishing trawler had sunk and it was suspected that casualty crew in a life raft had deployed a red distress flare.
It was later determined that the casualty fishing trawler Lezandi may have collided with the bulk carrier Sunrise Jade in dense fog.
Sea conditions were dense fog, a 2.5 meter sea swell and a 26 knot South Westerly wind.
During a search by vessels that had reached the search area, and prior to NSRI sea rescue craft arriving on the scene, at approximately 02h35, the fishing trawler Freesia reported locating a life raft and reported to the rescue authorities that all 14 crew had been found and were not injured and that the casualty crew were then successfully rescued aboard the fishing trawler Freesia and that all 14 casualty crew were accounted for.
The fishing vessel Lezandi is believed to be drifting semi submerged and Telkom Maritime Radio Services are broadcasting a maritime navigational warning to warn vessels in the area of the maritime navigational hazard.
Both life rafts were recovered.
MRCC thanked all vessels that responded to assist and released all vessels from the rescue operation.
The bulk carrier Sunrise Jade was released to continue to the Port of Saldanha Bay and it appears that she was not damaged by a suspected collision between herself and the fishing trawler Lezandi.
SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) will investigate the incident and it appears that a collision between the two vessels at sea and in a dense fog had occurred.
The fishing trawler Freesia confirmed that all 14 rescued fishermen will remain onboard their trawler and they will be brought to the Port of Table Bay where they will be met by WC Government Health EMS and ER24 ambulance services and by SAMSA officials where all of the rescued fishermen will be medically assessed as a precautionary measure despite there being no reports of any known injuries to any of the rescued fishermen.
The crew aboard the fishing trawler Freesia are commended for their role in the rescue operation.