Ian Hamilton, NSRI Mossel Bay duty controller, said: “At 03h21 (Sunday 26th June, 2011) the volunteer duty crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority following reports from the local 40 meter fishing trawler Emmanuel drifting towards shore and at risk of running aground at De Bakke, Mossel Bay, with 12 crew onboard.
A Transnet National Ports Authority tug boat was placed on alert, NSRI responded to the scene; Metro EMS ambulances, the SA Police Services and Mossel Bay Fire and Rescue Services were activated to stand-by on the scene.
Sea swells were 2 to 3 meter rough seas with a 5 to 10 knot wind and the tide was low at the time of the incident.
By 04h08 it was confirmed that the casualty boat had drifted onto rocks at De Bakke, about 50 meters off-shore, in the wave line, and the crew of the trawler sent out Mayday distress calls reporting that they were preparing to abandon ship and that they were launching their life-raft.
A rope was attached to the casualty boat from the land side in an attempt to stabilize it and to be used as a rescue line if the decision was made to rescue the crew from the land side.
The crew of the casualty boat were still safe onboard but as the tide dropped further, at around 04h20, the casualty boat began to list (lean over) to one side and for safety reasons we made the decision to immediately begin evacuating the casualty boat crew from the sea side using our sea rescue craft.
At 04h23 we launched our NSRI sea rescue craft Vodacom Rescuer (9m) and Vodacom Rescuer IV (5.5m) and we used Vodacom Rescuer IV, a 4.2 meter rigid inflatable rescue craft, to begin taking crew off the trawler (the trawler was now hard aground and listing to one side).
Four NSRI rescue swimmers (Ian Hamilton*, Judd Smook, JC Roos and Danie Trosky) were transferred onto the casualty boat to assist in the safe evacuation of the casualty crew. Ian Hamilton, then took a thick rope from the casualty boat and swam the rope to shore to complete the securing of the boat.
The casualty crew were then taken off the casualty boat one by one in relays and transported, aboard our 4.2 meter sea rescue boat, to Vodacom Rescuer, a 9 meter deep-sea rescue craft, which was standing by on-scene, but further out to sea, safely beyond the breaker line.
The operation to transfer all crew across was achieved in relays, (timing swells and wave sets and conducting the rescue during lulls in the swells and lulls in the wave sets and in between the swells and the wave sets where our smaller sea rescue craft would race in and push up against the trawler – then 1 or 2 of the casualty crew were transferred onto the sea rescue craft which then raced against the swells – negotiating the incoming wave sets – heading back out to sea and then transfer the casualty crew onto our bigger rescue craft), and as our larger 9 meter sea rescue craft filled up (with the casualty crew) they transported the casualty crew to our sea rescue base (which was also done in running relays). At the sea rescue base, as each load of casualty crew arrived, they were individually medically assessed by the Metro EMS paramedics.
During the sea rescue operation our 4.2 meter sea rescue craft sustained some damage and we then launched our sea rescue craft Vodacom Rescuer II (a 5.5 meter rigid inflatable sea rescue craft) to take over the sea rescue operation.
By 06h55 the Captain and his First Mate were the last two to be taken off the casualty boat and by 07h05 all crew of the casualty boat were accounted for and safe ashore at our sea rescue base.
SAMSA (The South African Maritime Safety Authority) will investigate the running aground of Emmanuelle. At this stage it cannot be confirmed what caused the trawler to run aground.
No one was injured in the incident and our NSRI volunteers are assisting a tug boat (of the Transnet National ports Authority) to attempt to use the incoming high tide to salvage the vessel off the rocks.
During the rescue operation our NSRI volunteers used the life-raft of Emmanuel to rescue personal goods belonging to the casualty crew and ferry the personal goods safely to land.
During this mornings rescue operation 4 NSRI rescue swimmers were dispatched from the beach to swim through the surf to take a rope to the casualty boat.
*It should be noted that one of this mornings rescue swimmers, Ian Hamilton, has been a volunteer with NSRI Mossel Bay for 40 years. ”