At 10h30, Friday, 28th November, NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) following reports of an incident 4 nautical miles South of Cape Recife for an unknown accident involving the Port Elizabeth 10 meter steel ship service vessel SYNCHRO reportedly damaged while servicing the Indonesian flagged 320 meter super tanker SYMRNI (transferring cargo supplies) but reported by Port Control as a serious emergency requiring a rapid response despite very little information about the nature of the emergency.
NSRI Port Elizabeth put out a Code Red alert for all crew available to urgently respond to the base to launch and the sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF TOFT was launched and on arrival on-scene found everyone safe and not injured but the vessel SYNCHRO was suffering super structure damage and complete electrical and motor failure.
SYNCHRO, with 2 crew onboard, skipper John “Jay” Liverick, 65, and crewman Anthony Opperman, 40, (Anthony is also a class 1 coxswain volunteer with NSRI Port Elizabeth), while transferring cargo supplies aboard SYMRNI using cranes from the deck of the super tanker to lift supplies off SYNCHRO, a crane hook from the tanker (used to lift cargo off the service vessel) accidentally hooked into the side edge of SYNCHRO ripping the super structure and part of the foredeck, with all cabling and fuel lines being ripped out, off the vessel (as the swell lifted and subsided), with the skipper still inside of the super structure at the wheel house, and then dropping the entire load into the sea while the swell caused the service vessel to crash into the side of the tanker and leaving SYNCHRO powerless but with her motors still running (the motors with no means left to be manoeuvred, missing vital cabling and steerage, eventually burnt out).
In only seconds the super structure and foredeck sunk with the skipper trapped inside of the wreckage of the super structure and trying to free himself. As it started to sink a swell lifted the debris level to the deck of SYNCHRO and crewman Anthony Opperman grabbed his skipper pulling him out of the super structure and safely onto the mangled deck of their boat and in the same moment the super structure and foredeck sunk beneath the waves.
According to Anthony the whole episode lasted about 5 seconds, from the super structure being ripped out by the crane, then dropping into the ocean, the successful rescuing of his skipper, and then the mangled super structure, wheel house and foredeck disappearing under water and sinking.
Anthony attributes his 13 years of training and experience with Sea Rescue, which allowed him to deal with the emergency calmly and quickly, which contributed to the successful saving his skipper from the mangled wreck before it sunk with less than a second to spare.
When NSRI Port Elizabeth arrived on-scene they found a commotion on the deck of the super tanker and the mangled wreck of what was left of SYNCHRO below (just the empty hull with two motors attached and no upper deck left behind) but both men aboard SYNCHRO safe and not injured.
NSRI towed the remains of the casualty boat back to Port in Port Elizabeth and once moored safely no further assistance was required.
The ship SYMRNI has not sustained any damage.
KZN - SOUTH COAST:
UPDATE: KZN-SOUTH COAST: Yacht safely towed into Port by NSRI Durban:
This afternoon, Saturday, 29th November, NSRI Durban duty crew launched the sea rescue craft EIKOS RESCUER II and met up with the yacht TOY BOY 25 nm South of Durban and have towed her and her 3 crew safely to a berthing in the Port of Durban without incident.
See Original Release Below:
At 17h20, Friday, 28th November, NSRI Shelly Beach launched SPIRIT OF DAWN and took battery power to the yacht TOY BOY 4 nautical miles off-shore of Margate reporting electrical power failure.
On arrival on-scene battery power was transferred onto the yacht and she continued towards the Port of Durban.
The yacht, originally being delivered from Durban to the Cape, with 3 male crew onboard, had turned around off-shore of the Transkei after sustaining battery power failure and had then called NSRI Shelly Beach for assistance when her crew grew concerned that they may run into further difficulties and without battery power also not having radio communications.
She continued towards Durban after receiving battery recharging from NSRI Shelly Beach but later, at 19h35 called for assistance again after part of her engine room flooded, battery power was again lost, and now also suffering some Mainsail damage.
NSRI Shelly Beach launched SPIRIT OF DAWN and on arrival on-scene assisted to pump water from the yacht and assist to get the yacht underway.
NSRI Shelly Beach escorted the yacht towards Durban and NSRI Durban were activated to be on alert and after it was found that the yacht was coping well under sail and all 3 crew safe and not compromised, although with no VHF radio, a hand held VHF radio was then supplied to the yacht by NSRI Shelly Beach and NSRI Shelly Beach dispatched a sea rescue vehicle to monitor their progress from the shoreline (the NSRI Shelly Beach sea rescue craft left her to return to base at around midnight) while NSRI Durban dispatched a sea rescue vehicle to rendezvous with the NSRI Shelly Beach sea rescue vehicle and to take over shadowing the yachts progress until she reaches Port in Durban.
The yacht, under sail and having been able to put up her Mainsail this morning from first light to catch the morning breeze, is expected to be about 10 nautical miles off Durban’s Port at around 16h00 this afternoon (Saturday, 29th November) and NSRI Durban will launch EIKOS RESCUER II and tow her into Port.
She is maintaining about 4 nautical miles off shore and under sail and all onboard remain safe while NSRI Durban continue to monitor her progress.