Crew Forced to Abandon Sinking Trawler, Collision Suspected

The crew of the fishing trawler Lezandi were rescued from their life raft after their vessel foundered in dense fog 10 nm off the coast of South Africa, possibly due to a collision with the bulk carrier Sunrise Jade.

The Lezandi made a distress call, and in communications with South Africa’s Telkom Marine Radio Services she reported that she was taking on water and her crew were preparing to abandon ship. She also reported conditions of dense fog at the scene.

Three nearby SAR stations of the South African National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) were notified at about 0130 hours, and they launched four rescue craft, which set out for the Lezandi’s last known position.

Five additional fishing trawlers and the bulk carrier Portos were nearby, and they reported to authorities that they were changing course to respond to the distress call. The bulk carrier Sunrise Jade also reported that she was in the vicinity.

Before SAR crew could arrive, at about 0230, the fishing trawler Freesia reported that she had located a life raft with all 14 crew aboard. None were seriously injured, and theFreesia took them aboard.

Authorities determined that the Lezandi may have collided with the Sunrise Jade in heavy fog, a 2.5 meter swell and about 25 knots of wind.

NSRI believes that the Lezandi is still drifting, nearly but not quite yet sunk. The last sighting of her hull showed her in this position. As she would pose a hazard to navigation the authorities are broadcasting a warning message to vessels in the area to maintain a lookout for the semi-submerged hulk.

The Sunrise Jade was allowed to continue to her next port. She showed no damage from the suspected collision.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority will investigate the cause of the accident. The Freesia carried the 14 rescued fisherman to shore at the Port of Table Bay, where they were given treatment for minor injuries and shock. One was taken to a clinic for treatment.

The Lezandi was operated by Viking Fishing Group. Company spokesman Rory Williams told local media that “we are very grateful and thankful that the crew are all fine . . . they were brought ashore early [Tuesday] morning and had full medicals.”

Viking is a diversified fishing and fish products company. The firm made headlines last year after a dozen fishermen from a 21-man crew perished after abandoning the trawlerMFV Lincoln off Cape Point.

The 60,000 dwt Sunrise Jade, flagged in Singapore, is operated by Dasin Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Dalian International Cooperation (Group).

Maritime Executive

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