Robben Island ferry Thandi being towed by the NSRI's Spirit of Vodacom into Murray's Bay Harbour was escorted by the NSRI rescue craft Spirit of Round Table and the Albie Matthews (both in the picture). Photo: NSRI Table Bay

Cape Town - The Robben Island ferry Thandi, which started taking on water with about 68 people on board on Friday afternoon, has been successfully towed to the safety of Murray's Bay Harbour at Robben Island, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.

Following the successful rescue of passengers from the Thandi on Friday afternoon, the NSRI Table Bay sea rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom went back out to sea to join the NSRI headquarters sea rescue craft Spirit of Round Table and the NSRI Hout Bay sea rescue craft Albie Matthews, NSRI Table Bay station commander Quentin Botha said on Saturday.

A towline was rigged from the sea rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom to the Thandi and the ferry was towed to Murray's Bay Harbour, he said.

Once safely berthed, water extrication pumps were used by NSRI crew and the casualty ferry was pumped free of water and re-floated and secured to a berthing where she remains at Murray's Bay harbour, Robben Island.

On Friday, Botha said the close to 70 crew and passengers aboard the Thandi were rescued after the vessel started taking on water. The NSRI was activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority following a Mayday distress call from the ferry.

Several craft from the NSRI stationed at Table Bay, Hout Bay, Bakoven, and Melkbosstrand launched rescue craft. Police and the City of Cape Town emergency services, an airforce helicopter, and a rescue chopper were on alert but did not need to respond.

Crew and passenger transfer taking place at sea. Photo: NSRI Table Bay

“There were reported to be 68 passengers in total which included the four crew of the ferry,” Botha said.

“On arrival on the scene the ferry was found to be listing to one side from water intake from unknown causes and some of the passengers were found to be in life rafts and the remaining crew and passengers were on the deck of the casualty ferry.”

Passengers were transferred from the Thandi to another Robben Island ferry. 

“All passengers and crew of the casualty ferry were transferred by NSRI from the casualty ferry and from life rafts onto the Madiba 1 and onto NSRI’s Spirit of Vodacom and brought to the Port of Table Bay where they were assessed by paramedics and only a few passengers were treated for mild hypothermia.”

Two passengers were transported to hospital – one aboard the Thandi was suffering from back pain while another woman aboard the Madiba 1 was suffering from anxiety, Botha said.
African News Agency