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NSRI Hout Bay duty crew activated after NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) intercepted a distress VHF marine radio call from a local fishing vessel reporting to be taking water 3 nautical miles off-shore of Duiker Island, Hout Bay.

Telkom Maritime Radio Services broadcast a Mayday relay VHF marine radio communications to all vessels in the area to respond to assist.

NSRI Hout Bay duty crew responded to the NSRI Hout Bay station 8 rescue base where the NSRI rescue craft Albie Matthews and Nadine Gordimer were prepared to be launched.

NSRI Bakoven and NSRI Table Bay were activated to respond to base to prepare NSRI rescue craft to launch to assist.

It was determined that there were 17 fishermen onboard the casualty fishing vessel, a 28 meter, steel hull, longline fishing trawler – they were taking water but maintained structural and navigational integrity - however with their motors cutting out before being restarted and then cutting out again, at intervals. At times she was adrift and at times she was underway.

The local fishing vessel Lucerne, that had diverted to assist, reached the casualty vessel. We believe they rafted alongside as a precaution and at times they were able to release the rafting when, at times, the casualty fishing vessel crew managed to get her motors running.

During that stage MRCC, TNPA (Transnet National Ports Authority) Port of Table Bay Port Control, WC Government Health EMS Metro Control, the SA Police Services (SAPS), Police Sea Borderline Control, SAPS WPDS (Water Policing and Diving Services), Hout Bay Police station and CoCT (City of Cape Town) Law Enforcement marine unit had all been alerted.

Police Sea Borderline Control (SAPS SBC) dispatched SAPS SBC officers to NSRI Hout Bay to stand by to assist if necessary.

With the NSRI Hout Bay rescue craft launching – the decision was made for NSRI crew, arriving at NSRI Bakoven and at NSRI Table Bay rescue stations, to launch the NSRI Bakoven rescue craft Gemini Legend and the NSRI Table Bay rescue craft DHL Deliverer.

TNPA Table Bay Port Control placed their TNPA tug boat Blue Jay on alert to be ready to respond if necessary.

It was reported, in communications with Telkom Maritime Radio Services, that the skipper and crew of the casualty fishing vessel had managed to get their motors running and as a precaution the skipper headed his vessel out to sea – away from land – to give them added drift time – in case the motors cut out again. They reported that they had stemmed the ingress of water.

The NSRI Table Bay rescue craft launched and was making her way to rendezvous with the casualty fishing vessel to join the Good Samaritan fishing vessel that was on-scene.

With the knowledge that the casualty vessel had a Good Samaritan fishing vessel at her side (FV Lucerne) – they reported to be heading towards the Port of Table Bay – they were deeper out to sea off-shore of Llandudno, in up to 4 meter sea swells, occasional rain and fair winds, but rough seas, – NSRI Hout Bay remained on high alert and NSRI Bakoven remained on high alert (with their rescue craft in the water and ready to launch if necessary).

The NSRI Table Bay rescue craft reached the casualty vessel where, once on-scene, the Good Samaritan fishing vessel Lucerne was released to return to fishing grounds.

The skipper and crew of Lucerne are commended for their assistance. They were bid a Bon Voyage and heartly thanked for their assistance by the skipper and crew of the casualty fishing vessel.

A towline was established and the NSRI rescue craft DHL Deliverer began to tow the fishing vessel towards the Port of Table Bay.

During the towing operation, hampered by the heavy weight of the casualty fishing vessel, but with steady progress – NSRI Hout Bay, NSRI Bakoven, the SA Police Services, EMS Metro Control and CoCT Law Enforcement marine unit were stood down but were requested to remain on high alert.

All 17 fishermen were not injured and although the status of the rescue operation remained tense – it was now under control and the towing operation was progressing without incident.

As an added precaution TNPA Table Bay Port Control dispatched the TNPA tug boat Blue Jay.

The towline appears to have chaffed (suspected to have chaffed) on the fishing vessel and the towline snapped but was quickly re-established.

Outside of the Table Bay Port entrance the towline was handed over to the TNPA tug boat Blue Jay who brought the fishing vessel to a berth in the Port of Table Bay and once safely tied up no further assistance was required.

The fishing company have initiated repairs to their fishing vessel.

Telkom Maritime Radio Services are commended for assisting in excellent marine VHF radio communications.

TNPA Port Control duty controllers and the TNPA tug boat Blue Jay skipper and crew are commended for their assistance.

The skipper and crew of the casualty fishing vessel are commended for their professional seamanship displayed during this ordeal.

NSRI station 3, are commended for their swift response and the successful rescue operation, and NSRI stations at Hout Bay and at Bakoven, NSRI EOC, Police and the emergency services, are commended for their assistance during this successful rescue operation that saved all 16 fishermen and brought their vessel home safely.

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