NSRI calls for Cape residents to avoid the Bos 400 wreck near Llandudno

The Bos 400 wreck. File photo: ANA/David Richie

The Bos 400 wreck. File photo: ANA/David Richie

Published Feb 21, 2021


Cape Town - The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has appealed to the public to avoid the Bos 400 barge shipwreck between Llandudno and Hout Bay in Cape Town.

"The Bos 400 wreck at Maori Bay on the Atlantic Seaboard is a no go area. Boarding the wreck is prohibited. The wreck poses serious dangers to the public. NSRI are appealing to the public to avoid the wreck and the surrounding rocks at all costs," NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon said in a statement.on Sunday

Entering the sea around the wreck also posed serious dangers to the public because of jagged corroding metal that had collapsed into the sea surrounding the wreck, he said.

Three rescue operations conducted over the past month highlighted the increasing danger that the wreck posed to people who "it appears may be drawn to the wreck for recreational purposes that may be encouraged by social media sites".

"NSRI are appealing to professional tour guides to spread the word to highlight the dangers that the wreck poses to the public and to discourage public members from the Bos 400 wreck," Lambinon said.

A rescue operation was launched on Saturday afternoon following reports of a drowning in progress at the wreck. NSRI Hout Bay and NSRI Bakoven dispatched sea rescue craft while Western Cape emergency medical services (EMS) and wilderness search and rescue (WSAR) were placed on alert.

"On arrival on the scene, NSRI discovered a group of 12 young adults, who we believe are students from Stellenbosch, and one member of the party, a young man, had suffered a non-fatal drowning accident and he was suffering from hypothermia."

It appeared that while swimming towards the wreck he was caught in currents that naturally swirl around the wreck. The group admitted that they had come to the wreck to jump into the water from the crane and from the superstructure, he said.

"Friends were assisting the casualty on the land side. The patient was secured into an NSRI croc and he was taken off the rocks and swum by NSRI rescue swimmers to a sea rescue craft where he was taken on board an NSRI sea rescue craft.

"The patient was accompanied by four friends, two females and two males, and in the care of an NSRI paramedic he was brought to the NSRI base in Hout Bay where, following medical treatment, he was released requiring no further assistance. The remaining members of their party hiked up the mountain to their vehicles," Lambinon said.

In the past few weeks, in two separate incidents, a young woman and a young man suffered serious injuries after jumping off the Bos 400 crane into the sea.

"The concern is that increased recreational activity in and around the wreck may lead to something more serious and we are strongly urging the public to stay clear of this wreck," he said.

The Bos 400 wreck ran aground in June 1994. Salvors salvaged what could be salvaged despite increasing dangerous conditions in and around the wreck until salvage operations were completed and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) posted signage prohibiting the boarding of the wreck, citing the dangers it posed from the corroding and collapsing metal infrastructure.

The signage prohibiting boarding of the wreck had also corroded and was no longer visible.

Over the years the wreck had corroded significantly, resulting in part of the crane and the superstructure collapsing into the sea, and storm conditions had washed metal debris in among the rocks surrounding Maori Bay.

The corroding metal that had fallen into the sea surrounding the wreck added to the inherent dangers, with jagged rusting metal lying submerged or semi-submerged around the wreck and in and around the bay.

"It is simply a matter of time for corrosion to cause more of the crane and the superstructure to collapse, creating an extremely dangerous environment to unsuspecting public members who it appears are being encouraged to use the wreck for recreational purposes," Lambinon said.

To add to the danger, this was an extremely difficult area in which to conduct a rescue operation.

Despite there being limited cellphone coverage and reduced radio communications in the barely accessible terrain, rescue operations at the wreck had at times involved multiple rescue resources - NSRI, EMS, WSAR, the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter, City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, CoCT Law Enforcement, Table Mountain National Parks, and the South African Police Service - at incredible cost, not only financially but also posing risks to the rescuers themselves.

"The metal infrastructure corrodes and rusts from the centre of the metal outwards due to salt water corrosion, meaning that where rust is visible on the surface of the metal it has completely corroded on the inside and is at risk of total collapse.

"The pathway leading to the wreck, made up of a section of the Karbonkelberg hiking trail that starts at Rocket Road, Llandudno, is also barely accessible, where parts of the trail are steep inclines with no visible pathway. This also hampers land-based rescue operations to reach the barely accessible area.

"We cannot stress enough that this wreck poses serious dangers to the public and the wreck should be avoided at all costs," Lambinon said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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