A large, all night sea rescue exercise, was hosted by NSRI’s Mossel Bay station commander Dawie Zwiegelaar and a huge team of volunteers during Saturday night.
The venue of the exercise was in the vicinity and surrounds of Mossel Bay, both off-shore and shore-side. The exercise took place in very cold, misty weather between18h00 on Saturday 14th May and 06h00 Sunday 15th May.
The surrounding NSRI stations which included: Mossel Bay, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Witsand, Wildernis and Still Bay all took part. Eighty-eight volunteers from the six stations, 12 sea rescue craft and 6 rescue 4×4 vehicles participated.
The Transnet National Ports Authority was represented by Harbour Master, Quenton Brink, who courteously supplied the support tug, Arctic Tern, and at the same time, kept an all-night, unobtrusive, eye over the proceedings.
The sea rescue exercise involved sea rescue scenarios for simulated exercises in two phases:
Phase 1 simulated a mass casualty incident – a passenger aircraft accident at sea. For the simulated exercise which followed, the rescuers had to retrieve 24 dummy casualties which were dropped off in the sea between Seal Island and the area at its Eastern side.
The Rescuers proved their efficiency in the dark, cold and misty sea and in a very short time soon had all the home-made “casualties” on board the Arctic Tern which was stationed nearby as rescue base.
Back at the NSRI Station, station commander Graeme Harding, of Knysna, led an exercise in applied navigation where the boats at sea had to perform a precision group exercise that was directed from the control room.
The message that came across was that clear, precise communication at sea, whether it is during day or night time, is of cardinal importance during any rescue operation.
Phase 2 took place during the early hours of Sunday morning in very cold and misty circumstances. During this phase four groups of sea rescuers rotated between four selected scenarios. These included the righting of a capsized boat; management of a diving accident, rock & surf rescue and a medical evacuation , which entails the lowering of a casualty or sick person from for example an oil tanker. Joining this venture was Jan Hoevers who made the luxury yacht, Island Explorer, available as observing outpost and therewith sacrificing a warm bed for a very cold night excursion.
After every phase and throughout the night, the spirits of the tired and cold crews returning to base, were revived with steaming coffee, sausage rolls, hot spicy soups and even roasted snoek prepared by cook Floris Mocke and the ever smiling ladies of Station 15, amongst others, Samantha McAlpine, Martie Brandt and Joani Bester.
Everybody agreed that this efficient and hard working land crew made a significant contribution towards a highly successful exercise.
As a final observation one cannot help but to mention the unwavering esprit de corps amongst the crew.
There were always smiles, a helping hand here and there, a feeling of companionship, and that indefinable ambience which can only be experienced in the presence of a fraternity of men and women unselfishly dedicated to serve those in peril on the sea.
We salute you.
This exercise could not have taken place without the generous sponsorship of the following companies and people and NSRI would like to extend their appreciation towards them: Viking Fishing. Sea Harvest, Roger Brink, Woolworths, Pick & Pay, A & S Food Distributers, Mikeva, Smit Amandla, Manny’s Food Distributers, Coke, Red Bull, Sasko, Fruit & Veg, Danie Hoffman, John Kapp.
Also a sincere word of appreciation to the following people for their personal contributions:
Roger Brink for making his airplane available, Guy Barker who had to deal with very little sleep to accommodate the exercise, Johann Nysschen for the photos taken, Daniel Rogers from Adventure Edge, Round Table and finally, the Crew of Station 15.
Words: Loftus Heunis