At 23h45, Sunday, 14th September, NSRI St Francis Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following a request for assistance from the Chokka fishing boats ALTAR (approximately 20 meters) and SOUTHERN STAR (approximately 40 meters) reporting to have collided at sea approximately 5 nautical miles off-shore and ALTAR was reported to be taking water.
Our NSRI St Francis Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF ST FRANCIS II, accompanied by two shore crew of the Chokka fishing company and with extra water extrication pumps, and rendezvoused with the two vessels 2 nautical miles off-shore.
It appears that SOUTHERN STAR had collided into the side of ALTAR which suffered a hole mid ships on the Port side of the vessel. There appeared to be minimal damage to SOUTHERN STAR. They had rafted SOUTHERN STAR against ALTAR to prevent ALTAR from sinking and they were pumping water out of ALTAR while motoring towards the Port of St Francis.
On arrival on-scene NSRI volunteers and the 2 shore crew members and the extra pumps were transferred onto ALTAR and the extra water extrication pumps were used to assist to pump water out of ALTAR.
Our sea rescue craft took 11 crew members off ALTAR taking them safely to shore in two relays while the Skipper and the First Mate remained on board ALTAR.
Pumping water out of ALTAR is a continuous effort as the large hole in the side of ALTAR is below the water line and until repairs can be made SOUTHERN STAR will have to remain rafted to the side of ALTAR to prevent her from sinking and water will have to continuously be pumped from the vessel until temporary repairs can be carried out.
Our sea rescue craft towed the two vessels to just off of Port St Francis.
They cannot come into Port rafted to each other so they remain a few hundred meters off of Port St Francis and have arranged salvage to patch the hole at sea today before bringing her into Port for repairs.
No one was injured.
NSRI were released from the operation at 03h00 after it was confirmed all water pumps are managing to pump water faster than it flows into ALTAR and while SOUTHERN STAR remains rafted to the side of ALTAR assisting to keep her afloat.
The Transnet National Ports Authority continue to monitor progress and Telkom Maritime Radio Services assisted with communications throughout the operation.