Cape Town - On Tuesday evening, the NSRI Simonstown duty crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) following reports of three local fishermen on a small open rigid inflatable boat adrift in False Bay with motor mechanical failure.
The fishermen said they were between Smitswinkel Bay and Pringle Bay, and reported that they had been drifting without motor power since earlier in the day while fishing in the Cape Point area when their motor failed on Tuesday morning.
NSRI Simonstown station commander, Darren Zimmerman, said: "Shortly after the three fishermen had raised the alarm, cellphone contact and any means of communications with the three fishermen was lost. A colleague of the three fishermen, and the owner of a White and Blue rigid inflatable boat in the Strand, said two local men launched his boat at Harbour Island in Gordons Bay, to go to the aid of the three fishermen who were adrift. They have not returned," Zimmerman said.
"Our NSRI Simonstown sea rescue crafts were launched to begin a search and our sea rescue vehicle responded to a height above Simonstown to look-out, our NSRI coast watchers were activated to keep a look-out and TNPA activated NSRI Kommetjie who dispatched their sea rescue vehicle to Cape Point to assist with communications and shoreline patrols."
Zimmerman said NSRI units in Gordons Bay, Strandfontein, Kleinmond and Hout Bay were activated.
The Hout Bay unit and the Gordons Bay NSRI team both dispatched the sea rescue crafts to assist. The Strandfontein, Gordons Bay and Kleinmond units dispatched their sea rescue vehicles to cover a shoreline search.
"A cold front, strong winds and heavy sea conditions, with up to 6.5 meter swells affected the Cape coastline on Tuesday," Zimmerman said.
Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) assisted NSRI commanders plotting and coordinating search patterns and the SA Air Force and NSRI Airborne Sea Rescue (ASR) were placed on alert.
Telkom Maritime Radio Services broadcast an 'all ships alert' for vessels in the False Bay area and beyond to keep a look out for the adrift boat with three fishermen, and for the White and Blue rigid inflatable boat with two fishermen aboard.
Zimmerman said ships at sea in the False Bay area kept a look-out. Additionally, two fishing vessels assisted in a search and the SA Navy submarine, SAS MANTHATISI, conducted a surface water search between Cape Point and Simonstown.
On Wednesday morning, NSRI Hermanus, NSRI ASR and the SA Air Force 22 Squadron joined the search.
NSRI Hermanus launched the sea rescue craft South Star and their sea rescue vehicle responded to conduct shoreline patrols and SA Air Force helicopters - an Oryx and a Lynx - from 22 Squadron flew search patterns.
During an extensive ongoing search and rescue operation eye-witnesses, on Wednesday afternoon, in Sandbaai, between Onrus and Hermanus, reported a boat appearing to be adrift and approaching the backline breaking waves and looking like the boat would run aground at Sandbaai.
NSRI Hermanus, WC Government Health EMS, EMR ambulance services, the SA Police Services and an SA Air Force helicopter responded to investigate and on arrival on the scene it was found to be the missing fishing boat (with the three fishermen) and the boat had capsized in the waves at Sandbaai and washed ashore along with the fishermen.
"NSRI medics and EMS paramedics conducted extensive CPR efforts on one of the fisherman but sadly after all efforts to resuscitate the man were exhausted he was declared deceased by paramedics," Zimmerman said.
"Condolences are conveyed to family and friends of the deceased man."
Police have opened an inquest docket.
The two survivors were treated by paramedics on the scene for hypothermia. They have been taken to hospital by ambulance and are in a serious but stable condition. They were expected to make full recoveries.
MRCC are continuing to coordinate a search and rescue operation for the two local men on a White and Blue 5 meter rigid inflatable boat that launched at Harbour Island on Tuesday.
NSRI Simonstown, NSRI Strandfontein, NSRI Gordons Bay, NSRI Kleinmond, the EMS/AMS Skymed Rescue helicopter, the SA Police Services and Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services dive unit are engaged in an ongoing search.
Local neighbourhood watches and Law Enforcement have been requested to keep a look-out.
Zimmerman added that the NSRI have been informed that this boat and her the two aboard did not rendezvous with the three fishermen in False Bay on Tuesday.
"An all ships alert is being broadcast by Telkom Maritime Radio Services for vessels in the False Bay area to keep a look-out.
"The NSRI commend the ships at sea, fishing vessels and private boats that are keeping a lookout and we appeal to the public along the False Bay coastline and Hermanus and beyond Hermanus to keep a lookout for the two fishermen on the White and Blue RIB.
"Thoughts are with the families of the 2 missing men in this difficult time," Zimmerman said.