Awarded for rescue

2017-06-20 06:00
Simon’s Town NSRI crew Darren Zimmerman, Lydelle Joubert, Robbie Robinson, Herby Meth, Hein Scheepers and Gary Fulton were awarded for their role rescuing nine fishermen.PHOTO: NSRI/ Megan Hughes

Simon’s Town NSRI crew Darren Zimmerman, Lydelle Joubert, Robbie Robinson, Herby Meth, Hein Scheepers and Gary Fulton were awarded for their role rescuing nine fishermen.PHOTO: NSRI/ Megan Hughes

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A Simon’s Town rescue crew has been lauded for their part in the rescue of nine fishermen.

At the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI)’s annual awards ceremony, held on Monday 12 June, a crew of the Simon’s Town NSRI station was awarded the CEO’s Letters of Appreciation for rescuing crew from the fishing vessel Lincoln.

In September 2015, the rescue crew – comprising Darren Zimmerman, Lydelle Joubert, Robbie Robinson, Herby Meth, Hein Scheepers and Gary Fulton – braved severe weather conditions to rescue fishermen who had abandoned ship out at sea. At around 18:00 on Saturday 27 September 2015, the crew was alerted to a distress call from the local fishing trawler. The trawler was taking on water in heavy sea swells 20 nautical miles south of Hangklip (35 nautical miles south east of Cape Point). The 21 crew members were abandoning ship in sea conditions of 6m swells. The NSRI Simon’s Town and Hermanus crews responded to the call, as well as the cargo vessel Harvest Rising, and the fishing trawlers Fucshia, Armana and African Queen that were in the area. On arrival on the scene it was confirmed that all 21 crew members had abandoned their vessel. A search was started by the cargo and fishing vessels and joined by the NSRI crews with the wind gusting to 45 knots.

Zimmerman, Simon’s Town NSRI station commander, says the hardest part of the rescue was listening to the communication from the fishing vessels searching for survivors, realising they were still far away from the rescue efforts. “The vessels trying to help were pulling people up the side of their ships. We were trying to get there as fast as possible. We were pushing the boat and the crew to their limits and were still three to four hours away. There was a desperate cry for us, but we were still so far away.”

Nine survivors were rescued and nine bodies were recovered from the water. One of the survivors who had been rescued succumbed to injuries and died later. Searches continued into the next day. However, three bodies were never recovered.

Zimmerman adds: “It’s important for people to realise that we don’t do this for the awards. This is who we are and what we do. We appreciate the award and it’s fantastic to be recognised, but that’s not why we do it.”

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