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Twenty-two fishermen were rescued from their sinking fishing trawler off the coast of Cape Town on Friday

At 09h36, Friday, 26 April, NSRI Hout Bay and NSRI Table Bay duty crews were placed on alert following reports from MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) of a local 35 meter long line fishing trawler taking on water (but under tow and pumping water free) about 30 nautical miles off-shore South West of the Port of Table Bay.

A fellow local fishing trawler had taken the casualty fishing trawler under tow.

We believe that the local casualty fishing trawler had started taking water in the early hours of the morning and had started heading towards Hout Bay harbour, confident that they would reach the harbour in good time.

At around 06h00 we believe that a fellow local fishing vessel had been arranged and take the casualty vessel under tow – once they had the casualty fishing vessel under tow they were confident that they would reach Hout Bay harbour in good time.

Telkom Maritime Radio Services, TNPA (Transnet National Ports Authority) and MRCC were alerted but there was at that stage no imminent danger.

The 22 fishermen abandoned their vessel on to a life raft

At 09h20 NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) was informed by MRCC of the operation that was in progress and NSRI Hout Bay, NSRI Table Bay and NSRI Simonstown were placed on alert.

At around 10h00 it was reported that the situation had deteriorated as sea conditions were changing, wind speeds and sea swells were increasing in intensity, and NSRI made the decision to launch to go to assist.

The NSRI Hout Bay rescue craft Nadine Gordimer and the NSRI Table Bay rescue craft DHL Deliverer were launched, accompanied by water pumps – an additional water pump had been delivered to NSRI Hout Bay by NSRI Simonstown crew.

WC Government Health EMS, the SA Police Services, Police Sea Borderline Control and Police WPDS (Water Policing and Diving Services) were alerted.

The NSRI Table Bay rescue craft reached the casualty vessel late afternoon, 20 nautical miles off-shore of Oudekraal, in 3 to 4 meter swells and 35 knot, gusting to 40 knot, winds.

It was obvious to NSRI that the casualty vessel, heavy laden with water, despite her crew's best efforts to expel water, was at risk of capsizing and almost immediately the towline was released while the 22 crew abandoned their vessel into a life raft and the NSRI rescue craft rescued all 22 fishermen safely onto the NSRI rescue craft.

One man suffered an injury and he was treated onboard the NSRI rescue craft by NSRI medics.

Sadly the long liner fishing trawler sunk in a short space of time.

The skipper and crew of the local fishing vessel that assisted their fellow fishing vessel are commended for their gallant efforts in trying to save the casualty fishing trawler after taking her under tow.

The casualty crew of the sunken trawler are commended for swiftly abandoning their vessel into life rafts (safely).

Rescue 3 docking into Table Bay rescue station at the V&A Waterfront, carrying all 22 of the fishermen

NSRI brought all 22 fishermen to the NSRI Table Bay rescue station where EMS paramedics tended to the injured man who was transported to hospital by EMS ambulance in a stable condition and he is recovering.

The remaining 21 crew were assessed by paramedics and they were released in good health.

Thoughts and care are with the 22 casualty fishermen and their families as well as the owners of the fishing company – in this difficult time – but we are confident that they will be back on the sea shortly.

The environmental impact of the sunken fishing trawler is being assessed by authorities.

The successful rescue of the 22 fishermen by NSRI Table Bay, in difficult conditions, is commended.

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