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LAMBERTS BAY:Avril Mocke, NSRI Lamberts Bay station commander, said:At 15h30, Friday, 05 June, NSRI Lamberts Bay duty crew were activated following reports of 4 local fishermen on an open fishing boat reporting to be disorientated by dense fog and unable to navigate to Lamberts Bay harbour from fishing grounds.It was unclear if they were or North or South of Lamberts Bay.Our sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis was launched and initiated a search off-shore North of Lamberts Bay in dense fog conditions.A sea rescue vehicle and shoreline crew were dispatched to search along the shoreline..Cell phone contact was maintained with the 4 fishermen who were requested to put to anchor.Investigations indicated that the fishing craft may be South of Lamberts Bay and a search was redirected with resources diverting to search South of Lamberts Bay.As night fell and after no sign of the fishing boat could be found our NSRI rescue vehicle mustered at strategic points along the coastline and used the sea rescue vehicle siren blaring in an effort to establish if the fishermen could maybe at least hear the siren blaring.This effort continued along the coastline until the fishermen confirmed in cell phone contact with us that they could hear the siren blaring and we were extremely pleased to at least now know where they were off-shore although in the dense fog they could not be seen.They were instructed to stay at anchor where they were and begin sounding their foghorn which they did.Our sea rescue craft was diverted to off-shore of the vicinity where the NSRI rescue vehicle was stationed which was approximately 7 nautical miles South West of Lamberts Bay.During this leg of the search and in conjunction with our sea rescue vehicle siren blaring and with the fishermen sounding their fog horn NSRI also deployed a white illuminating flare.With this coordinated effort the fishermen were located in the dense fog.Our sea rescue craft, using navigational equipment, initiated escorting the fishing craft towards Lamberts Bay harbour when during the escort their outboard engine developed mechanical problems.NSRI then took the casualty craft under tow and towed them to Lamberts Bay.On arrival at Lamberts Bay harbour we were received by a large crowd and by family members who had gathered to welcome the fishermen home following their ordeal and the fishermen were met by family, friends and the local community in an emotional reunion.Once safely ashore no further assistance was required.ST HELENA BAY:Mike Shaw, NSRI Mykonos station commander, said:At 15h27, Friday, 05 June, NSRI Mykonos duty crew were activated following reports from families of 2 Paternoster fishermen overdue from fishing and reportedly on a small open fishing boat.To our understanding from information gathered during investigations it appears that they had launched earlier in the day at Paternoster and may have become disorientated by the dense fog and although intending to fish in the vicinity of Seal Island they apparently missed the island and we now know that they had happened upon a group of Snoek fishing boats off-shore of North Blinder approximately 10 nautical miles North of Shelly Point only then realising that they had ventured further away from Paternoster than what was intended.Those Snoek fishermen had apparently pointed them in a direction back towards Seal Island but it seems that they had run out of fuel during the day and had started to row their boat but they remained disorientated by the dense fog.It appears that in final cell phone communications with family during the afternoon they had said that they were rowing and thought that they may be in the vicinity of Seal Island but communications were lost and we believe that was from depleted cell phone battery power.When they failed to arrive home as intended family raised the alarm and we activated to search between Paternoster and St Helena Bay.Our sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski 5 was launched and initiated a search from Paternoster in dense fog conditions.Our sea rescue craft Spirit of Rotary East London was towed by our sea rescue vehicle and launched at St Helena Bay and initiated a search in dense fog.Family of the missing Paternoster fishermen, aged 27 and 15, were kept informed and the SA Police Services were alerted and assisted in family liaison and Police Patrol vehicles kept a lookout during patrols along the coast while NSRI shoreline crews and NSRI coast watchers searched along the shoreline.Telkom Maritime Radio Services broadcast an all ships alert and ships at anchorage in the area and fishing boats in the search area kept a look out.During the search Telkom Maritime Radio Services increased the ships alert from a Maritime Securite broadcast, escalating this message to a Pan Pan broadcast, and then escalating the message to a Mayday relay broadcast as the gravity of the situation increased and fears for the wellbeing of the two missing fishermen intensified.No cell phone contact could be made with the casualty boat.MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) was notified of the search and MRCC and our NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) monitored the search and rescue operation and assisted with coordination.NSRI continued searching until approximately midnight when our sea rescue craft were withdrawn from the search area to refuel and MRCC was requested to investigate airborne resources to be placed on alert to possibly join the search if dense fog lifted in the morning.NSRI ASR (Airborne Sea Rescue) were placed on alert.The SA Air Force (SAAF) were placed on alert by MRCC.Additional NSRI crew were arranged to take over at first light and NSRI crew from Cape Town were activated to respond to NSRI Mykonos to relieve some of the NSRI Mykonos crew in crew rotations.On Saturday morning our sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski 5 was launched and re-initiated a search Northwards from Paternoster in liftin fog conditions.Our sea rescue craft Spirit of Rotary East London was towed by our sea rescue vehicle and launched at Vluisterbaai and initiated a search in the lifting fog conditions.WSAR (Wilderness Search and Rescue) were placed on alert to prepare to assist with helicopter landing zones and airborne communications if an airborne search was launched.Metro EMS Control was alerted and the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter and a SAAF 35 Squadron fixed wing aircraft was prepared to be launched to join in the search as fog was lifting in the search area.Local fishermen in the area launched fishing craft to join in the search.NSRI coast watchers continued to keep a lookout.Telkom Maritime Radio Services continued to broadcast Maritime radio messages for all ships in the search area to be on alert.During Saturday morning word was received by family reporting that they had received a cell phone message communication from the 2 casualty fishermen reporting that as daylight and fog lifted a Snoek fishing boat had found them and they could see a tanker motor vessel nearby which indicated to our rescue coordinators that they may be in the vicinity of ships at the ships anchorage off-shore of St Helena Bay.The description of the tanker motor vessel that they claimed that they could see fitted the description of a known motor vessel at anchorage in the area and sea rescue craft were diverted to search in that area.It appears that Snoek fishermen heading out to sea to fish had come across the casualty boat and had given them fuel and told them to use that fuel to head closer to a nearby motor vessel tanker and to wait there for NSRI and they used these Snoek fishermen's cellphones to alert family to their position and intentions.The sea rescue craft, nearest to that location, searched amongst the ships anchored and 6.4 nautical miles off-shore of St Helena Bay the casualty boat was spotted.Bruce Sandmann, coxswain on the sea rescue craft Spirit of Rotary East London, told us that as they approached the casualty fishing boat the delight of the man and the teenager was obvious.When we reached them the 2 casualties were overcome by emotions and our NSRI volunteers emotions ran high, said Bruce.NSRI admit that emotions ran high amongst our NSRI controllers, our NSRI crews and maritime, emergency and Police services involved and news spread fast reaching the families of the 2 casualties, their friends and the fishing community who were delighted by the news.The Police and controllers and emergency services resources and maritime authorities who were involved in the operation were delighted at the good news particularly to hear that both the man and the teenager were doing well and they were not injured.They appeared to be well prepared on the boat with enough food and water.The Paternoster families and friends headed towards St Helena Bay on news that NSRI were towing the craft towards the nearest harbour at St Helena Bay.The casualty was out of fuel and NSRI towed them into St Helena Bay harbour arriving to an emotional reception by family, friends and the local fishing community.There were heartfelt tears all around.Once the casualties and their boat were safely ashore no further assistance was required.NSRI commend the massive effort that was put into this successful search and rescue operation by all involved.SAFETY:NSRI are encouraging the West Coast fishing community and all boaters and paddlers launching to go to sea to carry fully charged cellphones with NSRI RSA Safetrx free cell phone app programmed into their phones. The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) is the charity that saves lives on South African waters. Our goal is to prevent drowning through rescue operations, education and prevention initiatives. Operating from base stations along the SA coastline, and on inland dams, our rescue volunteers are on call, at all hours, every day of the year. Our rescue crew receive no payment and neither do we charge the people we rescue. We visit schools around the country teaching children about water safety. Drowning prevention measures include our online training academy, with free courses for crew and the public, emergency signage, Pink Rescue Buoys for emergency flotation, rescue swimmers, lifeguards and active patrols during peak seasons. Our organisation is totally reliant on donations and sponsorships. This enables us to do the work of saving lives, changing lives and creating futures. SEA RESCUE EMERGENCY: 112 or 087 094 9774
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