Thanks to generous Canadian who loved NSRI it launches R20m new rescue vessel

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Apr 23, 2021

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Cape Town – On many a visit to Cape Town, Canadian Donna Hayhurst Nicholas got to admire the work done by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and always said she wanted to support it.

’’She had a huge heart and spent her life thinking of others and how she might help them in her quiet and unassuming way,’’ the NSRI said of Nicholas and her late husband, who had invested in a number of properties in Cape Town.

The stockbroker, analyst and property designer, who died aged 74 in 2014 was true to her word. Last weekend, largely thanks to Donna Nicholas, a R20 million hi-tech search-and-rescue vessel began its maiden voyage to Simon’s Town.

’’Donna included a bequest to the NSRI in her will which substantially funded the new offshore rescue craft for Station 10 Simon’s Town and it gave us great pleasure to honour her by naming the vessel in her memory,’’ the NSRI said.

It was not the first time she had supported the NSRI, a voluntary non-profit organisation tasked with saving lives, which operates 41 bases comprising coastal stations and inland stations on dams. Nicholas was an active bidder at the Rotary Wine Auctions in aid of the NSRI over the years.

“The station is very proud to be receiving this hi-tech search and rescue vessel and we look forward to being able to reach those in peril speedily and in all weather conditions.

’’The vessel has been purposely designed in France by Pantocarene Naval Architects and built for the worst of the conditions the Cape has to offer,” said Station 10 Commander Darren Zimmerman.

The new self-righting and purpose-built rescue vessel will take the NSRI’s crew safety and marine rescue capability to a new level, having been designed for rescue operations in extreme conditions. At 14.8m long and 4.8m wide, it can be deployed on rescue missions as far as 50 nautical miles (over 92km) from land and has an expected lifespan of at least 40 years.

“With any new vessel comes planning and facility alteration in order to accommodate her. The rescue base has been rebuilt and the slipway and winch gear upgraded in order to house this magnificent vessel,” said Zimmerman.

“Our fleet replacement programme will see the entire NSRI all-weather search and rescue fleet replaced with the new vessels over about 10 years, allowing for increased operational capability,” said NSRI chief executive Dr Cleeve Robertson.

“Although most rescues are coastal and inshore, an increasing number of our operations require search and rescue vessels with extended range and advanced capability in safety and technology. As the only maritime rescue service operating in Southern African waters, we needed to make this investment to ensure all round safety for crew and those being rescued.

“She is a huge step from what we are used to, and we have really had to adjust our culture in order to safely and effectively crew Donna Nicholas.'’

The NSRI is entirely funded by donations, receives limited government support and is the only national organisation delivering coastal rescue services.

“We are appealing for donations from as many people as possible – that way we will ensure that our rescue craft and services touch the lives of all South Africans” said Robertson.


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