A diver was rescued on Thursday, 2 March 2023, after he went missing off-shore of Seal Point Lighthouse in Cape St Francis. According to NSRI St Francis Bay station commander, Sara Smith, their duty crew was activated following reports of the missing diver at approximately 13h23. “While diving at a depth of 35 to 40 metres, two local men who are recreational divers from a local dive club, were on an ascent from their dive when their anchor line reportedly came loose from their boat forcing them to speed up their ascent”, said Smith.
Smith continued, “On surfacing one diver was able to reach their rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) while one diver, after managing to get his dive fins on board their boat, he became separated from the boat and his dive partner lost sight of him. The alarm was raised while the dive partner initiated a search.”
“The missing man was reported to be adrift at sea with no aids, life-jacket, flippers, safety gear, other than he was in his wet-suit with his dive tank and BC. NSRI St Francis Bay launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II while shore crew were dispatched to initiate a shoreline search”, she said.
“The NSRI Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) alerted the Transnet National Ports Authority and Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC). Telkom Maritime Radio Services broadcasted an all ships alert for the area requesting vessels in the area to keep a sharp lookout.”
“NSRI Jeffreys Bay was activated and the NSRI rescue craft Rescue 37 was launched. NSRI Oyster Bay duty crew were activated and they prepared to launch the NSRI rescue craft Oyster Bay 1. The Transnet National Ports Authority, NSEI EOC, NSRI duty controllers from St Francis Bay, Jeffreys Bay and from Gqeberha assisted MRCC to plot a search grid. NSRI Kommetjie (Cape Town) assisted with the Search Well system to assist in the drift direction and speed of drift.”
“Sea conditions were two to three metres Westerly swells with South Easterly 10 to 20 knots winds.”
“Gqeberha Air Traffic Control (ATC), local flight schools and airfields were alerted.”
“Two fixed-wing aircraft joined in the search, one crewed by NSRI Gqeberha volunteer father and son crew, Ross and Rob Pyle, on aircraft belonging to Madiba Bay School of Flight who volunteered their aircraft and they joined the search from Gqeberha, and one aircraft crewed by local Chris Sparg, that joined the search from the St Francis Airfield, on his private aircraft that he volunteered. The two aircraft were directed to search areas.”
“Port St Francis Ski-boat and Yacht Club assisted by dispatching private craft to join in the search. Balobi Chokka Fishing Company also dispatched a vessel to assist in the search and Private Care ambulance services and the Police Dive Unit were placed on alert.”
“At 15h12, during an extensive air, sea and shoreline search, the missing diver was located one nautical mile off-shore West of Seal Point Lighthouse by the NSRI Jeffreys Bay rescue craft Rescue 37. He was found to be in good spirits despite being in the water for almost two hours. He had suffered multiple blue blotte stings to his hands but he was otherwise not injured and he required no medical attention. He was brought to shore aboard the NSRI rescue craft safely and he was reunited with his dive buddy.”
“The swift response by all involved is commended. The dive partner is commended for raising the alarm early. The massive local response by private aircraft, private boats, local clubs and the fishing industry and the immense swift response by NSRI St Francis Bay, their flanking stations NSRI Jeffreys Bay and NSRI Oyster Bay and the support from NSRI Gqeberha, TNPA, NSRI EOC, MRCC is commended”, said Smith.
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