At 14h36 NSRI Richards Bay volunteers were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority to assist 3 Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) tug boats in attendance at the coal cargo ship SMART (approximately 230 meters) reportedly on a shallow sand bank adjacent to the Port exit channel where the tug boats were attempting to pull the vessel free of the sand bank after she appears to have, in very rough seas of 10 meter swells, been pushed onto a sand bank while exiting Port to go to sea.
Our NSRI Richards Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF RICHARDS BAY and NSRI Helicopter Rescue Unit rescue swimmers were dispatched to stand-by at the TNPA helicopter pad.
At just after 16h00 the structural integrity of the ship was compromised and the Captain ordered his ship to be abandoned.
The TMNP helicopter transported a NSRI rescue swimmer to the ship. The rescue swimmer was hoisted onto the ship and he assisted crew to be hoisted, using under arm hoist, into the helicopter and all 23 crew of the ship, which includes a ships pilot, were hoisted into the helicopter in relays and they have been brought safely ashore where Netcare 911 paramedics and NSRI personnel are receiving them.
The rescue helicopter flew 4 sorties to evacuate all crew safely off the ship.
SAMSA (South African Maritime safety Authority) are en route to investigate and begin evaluations to save the ship.
Pictures are available for media use from Sea Rescue’s Flickr page.