During Friday afternoon, 14 April, MRCC (MARITIME RESCUE COORDINATION CENTRE), supported by SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority), Telkom Maritime Radio Services, TNPA (Transnet National Ports Authority), NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) and Police Sea Borderline Control continued to monitor the drift of the unmanned Hout Bay support vessel that had caught fire during the early hours of Friday morning where 26 Hout Bay based fishermen abandoned the ship that was well ablaze and who were successfully rescued by the crew of the fishing vessel Umfondini approximately 8 nautical miles South of Cape Point.
The Umfondini crew have been commended for the successful rescue of all 26 crew while the 26 casualty crew have been commended for successfully abandoning their burning vessel safely into life rafts in rough seas.
At 17h30, Friday, 14 April, NSRI Hout Bay and NSRI Kommetjie duty crews were activated at the request of MRCC to respond to the casualty vessel, off-shore of Scarborough, and attempt to hold her off-shore until the tug boat Strandloper arrived on the scene.
It appeared that the casualty vessel, still smouldering from the earlier fire, was adrift in a North Westerly direction and was at risk of running aground in the vicinity of Scarborough, South of Kommetjie.
Strandloper had been dispatched by TNPA to take her under tow. Her estimated arrival time was 20h00 on Friday evening.
The NSRI Hout Bay rescue craft Nadine Gordimer and the NSRI Kommetjie rescue craft Spirit of the Vines were scrambled to respond.
On arrival on the scene the estimated 80 ton casualty vessel, still smouldering, was found drifting towards shore but appeared to be at no risk of sinking.
Telkom Maritime Radio Services assisted with marine VHF radio communications during the operation.
NSRI rescue swimmers were deployed and a towline was rigged to the casualty vessel from NSRI Hout Bay’s rescue craft Nadine Gordimer.
NSRI were able to use sea currents to gently tow the vessel away from land and hold her off-shore until the tug boat Strandloper arrived on the scene – averting an environmental maritime disaster.
The towline was transferred to Strandloper and Strandloper towed the casualty vessel to deep sea until Saturday where during the morning Strandloper towed the casualty vessel and moored her at a berth on the sea side of Hout Bay Harbour pier.
Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services are dousing the smouldering vessel. A WC Government Health EMS ambulance is on site to assist. No injuries have been sustained.
SAMSA, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services and a salvage company have secured barriers around the vessel to prevent any pollution spill although there remains no signs of any oil or diesel leakage, spills or outfall.
All involved are commended for their ongoing efforts to contain any environmental threat.
The casualty vessel owners have appointed salvors to assess salvage options.
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