Full moon rising off South Coast mistaken for ship explosion and fire

One of the National Sea Rescue Institute's rescue vessels. Picture: Supplied

The full moon rising over the horizon had given the impression of an explosion and a fire at sea.

Multiple eyewitness reports were received by NSRI duty controllers of a ship appearing to have exploded and ablaze deep sea off-shore of the South Coast coastline on Sunday, July 5.

Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), Transnet National Ports Authority and Telkom Maritime Radio Services were alerted and they confirmed that no ships were at sea at the time in that area.

NSRI coast watchers and shore crew were able to get visuals of what the eye-witnesses were reporting and it was confirmed that the full moon rising over the horizon had given the impression of an explosion and a fire at sea.

On the same day, at about 4.27pm, NSRI Port Edward duty crew were activated following a request for assistance from a commercial fishing boat reporting that they were standing-by at a fellow commercial fishing boat which had engine failure to one of her two motors, with nine crew onboard off-shore of the Transkei coast, 14 nautical miles from Port Edward.

The fellow fishing commercial boat had taken four of the nine crew off the casualty commercial fishing boat and was accompanying the casualty boat that was motoring under only one motor and limping towards Port Edward with five crew remaining onboard.

Medi-Vac Ambulance Service had responded to Port Edward sea rescue base to assist with their rescue craft God’s Grace and NSRI Shelly Beach dispatched an NSRI coxswain to assist.

The rescue craft God’s Grace stood by ready to launch if required.

NSRI Port Edward duty crew launched the sea rescue craft jet-rib Sea Ranger 3.

“The casualty boat, with her reduced crew on board, was able to limp to the backline off-shore of Port Edward where our sea rescue craft Sea Ranger 3 met up with them and in two relays, two casualty crew at a time were taken off the casualty boat and brought to shore through the two to 2.5-metre breaking swells,” said NSRI Port Edward duty coxswain, John Nicholas.

The fellow commercial fishing boat beached without incident along with the four crew that they had taken off the casualty boat.

The casualty boat was able to negotiate through the swells and beached safely with only the skipper remaining on the boat.

With all crew safely ashore and the casualty boat recovered no further assistance was required.

NSRI commended the commercial fishing boat, Jabulani that assisted the casualty boat in this operation.

NSRI commended Medi-Vac ambulance service for standing by to assist with the rescue craft God’s Grace.

This article first appeared on South Coast Herald and has been republished with permission.

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