Quentin Botha, NSRI Table Bay station commander, said:
At 14h18, Friday, 15th September, NSRI Table Bay duty crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) following a Mayday distress call from the Robben Island passenger ferry Thandi reporting to be taking water.
The NSRI Table Bay sea rescue craft Spirit of Day and Spirit of Vodacom was launched to join the Robben Island passenger ferry Madiba 1 that were already on the scene.
NSRI Headquarters launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of Round Table, NSRI Bakoven launched the sea rescue craft Rotarian Schipper, NSRI Hout Bay launched the sea rescue craft Albie Matthews, NSRI Melkbosstrand launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of Brenda and a private boat, the Police Sea Borderline launched a Police craft, DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) launched a DAFF boat and the TNPA Pilot boat Petrel responded.
The AMS/EMS Skymed rescue helicopter and the ASR (Air Sea Rescue) and a SAAF (SA Air Force) Oryx helicopter were activated. Skymed was later stood down and the SAAF Oryx remained on alert but was not required to respond.
Community Medics, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services dive unit, WC Government Health EMS rescue and ambulance, City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management, ER24 ambulance services and Netcare 911 ambulance services responded.
A Police Dive Unit was placed on alert.
MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) were alerted and Telkom Maritime Radio Services assisted with radio communications during the operation.
There were reported to be 68 passengers in total which included the 4 crew of the ferry.
A JOC (Joint Operations Control) was set up at the Transnet National Ports Authority Control Tower and rescue craft were directed from the NSRI Table Bay rescue base.
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.
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 but did not require to go to hospital.
One local crew member from the ferry Madiba 1, a female, was transported to hospital by Netcare 911 ambulance in a stable condition suffering from an anxiety episode. A passenger from the ferry Thandi, a local South African female, was transported to hospital by ER24 ambulance in a stable condition suffering from back pain as a precaution.
All passengers and crew are accounted for. As the rescue operation progressed some of the resources were stood down no longer required.
SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) were alerted and an investigation into the cause of the vessel taking water will be investigated.
Efforts are being made to recover the ferry.