A search commenced at 23h32, Sunday on 10th January, following credible eye-witness reports of 3 red distress flares fired in succession approximately 6 minutes apart off-shore between Kommetjie and Scarborough.
NSRI Kommetjie duty crew launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of the Vines and NSRI Hout Bay duty crew launched the sea rescue craft Nadine Gordimer into rough sea conditions to commence a sea search and sea rescue spotters were positioned along the elevated roadway above Slangkop lighthouse to keep a lookout for any additional flares or signs of a distress.
Strongly suspecting a vessel and crew to be in distress at sea an extensive sea and shore search continued until 04h00 on Monday morning but despite the extensive search no sign of any persons in distress was found and a search operation was suspended.
Throughout Monday the situation continued to be monitored, while NSRI Kommetjie duty crew assisted Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, WoF (Working on Fire) and Volunteer Wildfire Services who were battling a mountain fire at Scarborough, but with no reports of any persons missing or overdue the origin of the red distress flares and the purpose of their activation at sea remains a mystery.
At 15h12 on Monday the 11th of January, NSRI Mykonos were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) following reports from the owner of fishing vessels operating on the West Coast of a fishing craft with 2 fishermen onboard, aged 28 and 42, from Paternoster, overdue from fishing.
The fishermen reportedly departed St Helena Bay at 23h00 on Sunday night to fish their regular fishing grounds approximately 6 nautical miles off Noord Winder. At 01h00 on Monday, while talking to shore crew by phone, contact was lost with the fishing craft but no distress was suspected. At 08h00 fishing craft were returning from sea but the casualty craft failed to return and the owner and fellow fishermen initiated a search. At 11h00 all fishing craft were expected to have returned from fishing but the casualty craft remained unaccounted for and a search effort by the owner and fellow fishermen was intensified.
At 15h00 the owner sought assistance from NSRI.
NSRI Mykonos towed the Sea Rescue craft Gemini Rescuer II to be launched on the scene and a search commenced covering the area between St Helena Bay and Lamberts Bay and assisted by the SA Police Services.
MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination centre) activated an SA Air Force 35 Squadron Dakota fixed wing aircraft to join the search and they were due to be airborne from Air Force Base Ysterplaat at 18h30 to join the search operation but at 18h20 the crew aboard the Sea Rescue craft located the 2 fishermen 2 nautical miles from Noord Winder safe on their fishing craft which had sustained motor mechanical failure.
A tow-line was rigged and they were towed to St Helena Bay where they were reunited with their families and no further assistance was required.