Durban – Twenty-five crew had to be rescued off the coast of Port Elizabeth after their fishing boat sank on Thursday.
NSRI Port Elizabeth station commander Ian Gray said in a statement that they received a call for urgent assistance from a 29-metre steel crayfish boat, Baratz, at about 14:00.
The vessel, with 25 crew on board, reported that it was taking on water, had no motor power and was adrift as sea, south-east of Cape Recife. There were rough sea conditions, with four to five-metre swells and south-easterly winds of up to 20 knots.
Gray said his team went to the rescue.
“On arrival on-scene… the casualty crew had sealed their engine room, which had waterlogged and the Helena Marie attempted to take the casualty craft under tow, but… the Baratz… began to sink, forcing her crew to abandon ship into life-rafts.
“NSRI’s sea rescue craft and the Helena Marie initiated a search for two fishermen suspected to be missing after crew in the life-rafts were found to be safe.”
Gray said despite the two life-jackets found floating on the sea surface, it was confirmed that one crewman had been rescued from the surf by an NSRI rescue swimmer.
“That casualty crewman had failed to make it into the life-raft and he had landed up in the water. He was being swept away by winds and currents at the time, wearing a life-jacket.”
Gray said NSRI crew spotted him, deploying a sea rescue swimmer into the water to secure him, before he was taken aboard NSRI’s Eikos Rescuer IV.
He said it appeared that all crew were accounted for. He said NSRI rescue swimmers were deployed from the two SA Air Force helicopters into the water and in relays. The crew – one at a time – were hoisted aboard the helicopters and brought safely to shore.
Gray said all crew were safe and had been transported to local hospitals for further treatment.
The NSRI said the South African Maritime Safety Authority would investigate what had caused the ship to sink.