NSRI in action in Cape St Francis and Port Elizabeth

NSRI STATION 21 - St Francis BayNSRI St Francis Bay

NSRI St Francis Bay duty crew were activated last Tuesday afternoon following a request for a tow from a crew on a 4.2 meter inflatable boat reporting a faulty fuel line that caused a small fire aboard their boat.
The small fire had been extinguished by them and they reported to be at anchor 500 meters off-shore of the lighthouse at Cape St Francis but with no motor power, they requested to be towed.

The sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis was launched and on arrival with the distressed craft rigged a towline and towed them safely to Port St Francis without incident.

Earlier in the day NSRI medics medically assisted a fisherman with a medical complaint at Port St Francis.

Private Care ambulance services were activated and the Cape Town fisherman was transported to hospital by Private Care ambulance in a stable condition.

NSRI Port Elizabeth

NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew were activated following reports of a drowning in progress at Swartkops River Mouth late on Saturday afernoon .

Sea rescue craft JLK Rescuer launched and joined SA Police Services, Coastal Water Rescue, EC Government EMS and Bluewater Bay lifeguards in searching for a local 11 year old boy thought to have slipped into the water before being swept away by rip currents in an outgoing tide.

Despite an extensive sea and shoreline search no sign of the child was found.

Police trauma counsellors are assisting family of the missing child and Police are investigating.

On Sunday Police and a Police K-9 Search and Rescue squad with the assistance of NSRI Port Elizabeth, Coastal Water Rescue, Bluewater Bay lifeguards, continued with the search. A Police helicopter also joined in the ongoing search on Sunday.

The child remains missing and thoughts are with the family in this difficult time.

 Earlier in the week

On Thursday evening NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew were activated to assist in evacuating a crewman suffering a medical complaint from an oil tanker heading towards Port Elizabeth.

MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre), a Government Health EMS duty doctor and Telkom Maritime Radio Services assisted in coordinating the patient evacuation.

The sea rescue craft JLK Rescuer was launched accompanied by an EC Government Health EMS rescue paramedic.

The NSRI crew rendezvoused with the oil tanker 4 nautical miles off-shore of the Port of Port Elizabeth. The EMS rescue paramedic and NSRI rescue crew were transferred onto the tanker and the patient, in a stable condition, was secured into a specialised stretcher and transferred onto the sea rescue craft.

The adult male patient was brought to shore and he has been transported to hospital by EMS ambulance in a stable condition.

Whale assisted in disentanglement operation off East London

Photo – SAWDN Generic

On Tuesday morning, 10th September, the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were alerted by the East London ski-boaters of a 4 meter juvenile Humpback whale entangled in fishing rope 2 nautical miles off-shore of east London.

A dive charter boat had located the whale and remained with the whale to mark its position pending the arrival of SAWDN. 

SAWDN volunteers, on an NSRI East London sea rescue craft, reached the scene and Marine scientists examining images of the whale confirmed the whale to be in poor health and unlikely to survive.

SAWDN volunteers, using the SAWDN specialised cutting equipment, were able to free and recover fishing rope that was entangled around the whale.

The whale remained still and calm throughout the operation to cut the fishing gear free.

There appeared to be no adult or parent animals in the vicinity.

Once free the whale did appear to show some signs of renewed strength despite the poor state of health.

The sea rescue craft headed out to sea with the whale following the sea rescue craft and adult whales were spotted further out to sea.

After the sea rescue craft veered away from the whale it appeared to continue to head in the direction of the adult whales.

While SAWDN are not optimistic to the survival of this whale we are non the less hopeful for its survival.

SAWDN commend the East London ski-boaters for their alerting us and we commend the dive charter boat who marked the whales position until SAWDN arrived.


The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) was established in 2006 in order to manage entangled whales using specialized equipment and is comprised of trained volunteers from the – National Sea Rescue Institute, KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, Department of Environmental Affairs, Centre for Sustainable Oceans at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Nature, Mammal Research Institute, South African National Parks, South African Police Service, Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Cape Nature, Bayworld, various Boat Based Whale Watching and Shark Cage Diving Operators, the Rock Lobster Industry and the Octopus Industry and fully supported by the Dolphin Action and Protection Group.
Whales assisted to date: 191   

NSRI Plettenberg Bay receive International Award

Pictured here on the left Marc Rodgers, NSRI Plettenberg Bay station commander and Robbie Gibson, NSRI Plettenberg Bay coxswain – holding the award presented to them at the IMRF awards ceremony in London.

NSRI are delighted to announce our NSRI Plettenberg Bay, Station 14, station commander, Marc Rodgers, and NSRI Plettenberg Bay, Station 14, coxswain, Robbie Gibson, attending the IMRF (International Maritime Rescue Federation) awards in London were awarded second place, in the IMRF Innovation and Technology Awards announcements, for their purpose designed rescue stretcher.

Congratulations Marc and Robbie on your purpose designed rescue stretcher, designed for coastline rock and surf patient extrication, and recognised by IMRF in this prestigious awards ceremony.

Pictured here on the left Marc Rodgers, NSRI Plettenberg Bay station commander and Robbie Gibson, NSRI Plettenberg Bay coxswain – holding the award presented to them at the IMRF awards ceremony in London today.

Below is an extract from the motivation that was sent to the IMRF for their consideration:

Purpose designed rescue stretcher for rock and surf patient extrication:

The National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa’s Station 14, Plettenberg Bay, on the East Coast of the country, has a unique patient extrication problem on a rocky stretch of their shoreline where the bulk of their rescues take place.

Regularly hikers in the Robberg Nature reserve are injured on the hiking trail and need to be carried back to the parking area or extricated by sea. The latter is often the preferred method as large parts of the reserve include narrow foot paths which navigate steep rocky sections. 

Patient extrication by sea on a rocky stretch of coast that has substantial wave action is a specialist task that needs specialist training and equipment. The rescue vessels of choice in this area are Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIB’s) and jet skis. 

With this in mind the Plettenberg Bay volunteers have pioneered a new design of floating stretcher that could be used over rocks and through surf to extricate a patient who has been immobilised.

The stretcher that was designed in 2018 / 2019 and used operationally for the first time in April 2019 has a number of unique features that could be utilised by other rescue services around the world:

  1. It is a stable platform on which a casualty can be carried over rough terrain on narrow paths with ease.
  2. It will not capsize easily in surf.
  3. It carries a backboard with spider harness and head blocks that is easily removable.
  4. It is light weight and very strong so if damaged in operation it will not fail.
  5. It is a narrow design so that a patient can be carried on it on narrow footpaths.
  6. The shoulder strap design help the stretcher bearers take the weight of a patient.
  7. It has solid pontoon so that it can not be punctured and then fail.
  8. A rigid platform base that will allow CPR to be performed on it.
  9. A streamline platform to allow effective towing.
  10. A good towing eye and strap that can be quickly connected to a tow line while under stress in the surf.
  11. Suitable for use in swift water rescue.
  12. As comfortable as possible for the casualty while in the water with a hood that deflects surf.
  13. It should paddle like a SUP carrying two crew and be able to carry medical and rescue equipment in swift water and floods
  14. Have a storage compartment for medical equipment.
  15. The hull is of fibreglass with nylon skids protecting the underside when sliding over rocks.

To build such a craft designs from across the world were assessed and ideas from various designs were used as well as incorporating some completely new design concepts.

All of the above criteria was achieved and the final rescue platform came in at 20kg’s including a back board. 




NSRI Wilderness assist in USA Student Rescue

NSRI STATION 21 - St Francis BayLate Monday afternoon Wilderness duty crew were activated following reports of a drowning in progress at Cola Beach, Sedgefield.

NSRI Wilderness medics and WC Government Health EMS responded to the scene where it was found a 22 year old female, from the United States of America (USA), on a student tour, had been rescued from the surf by a fellow male student, from USA, after being caught in rip currents and the female was treated by paramedics for non-fatal drowning symptoms and transported to hospital in a stable condition by EMS ambulance and she is expected to make a full recovery.

And later Monday evening NSRI Plettenberg Bay duty crew launched sea rescue Ray Farnham Rescuer, accompanied by the NSRI Station 14 duty doctor, to rendezvous with a fishing vessel 6 nautical miles off-shore of Plettenberg Bay to patient evacuate a male crewman suffering a medical emergency.

On arrival on the scene the doctor was transferred onto the fishing boat and the patient was stabilised and transferred onto the sea rescue craft and brought to shore where WC Government Health EMS were standing by and he has been transported to hospital by EMS ambulance in a stable condition for further treatment.

Man drowns in surf at Main Beach Jeffreys Bay

NSRI STATION 21 - St Francis Bay

During an NSRI Junior Academy routine lifeguard training, NSRI Jeffreys Bay were alerted by the public reporting to have had lost sight of a person swimming at Main Beach when they lost sight of the person they feared for their safety

An NSRI lifeguard using a Malibu Rescue Board initiated a search and NSRI Waverunner launched to join in the search with duty crew launching the sea rescue craft Project Group Rescuer.

The SA Police Services, Private Care ambulance services and EC Government Health EMS also responded.

An NSRI lifeguard located and recovered the swimmer onto a Malibu rescue board who it was found was a 34 year old man. He was transferred onto the sea rescue craft and CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) efforts commenced.

The patient was brought to shore where paramedics continued with extensive CPR efforts but sadly after all efforts were exhausted the man has been declared deceased.

The body of the man has been taken into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services and Police have opened an inquest docket.

Condolences are conveyed to family of the deceased man.


On Sunday, 08 September, NSRI St Francis Bay duty crew were activated following a request for medical assistance from a Chokka fishing boat that was heading towards St Francis Bay after lifting fishing gear and anchor from deep-sea fishing grounds reporting a 49 year old Port Alfred crewman onboard suffering a medical emergency.

NSRI Oyster Bay were placed on alert and Private Care ambulance services were activated to stand by at our NSRI base.

The sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II was launched and rendezvoused with the fishing boat just off-shore of Oyster Bay Point.

The patient was transferred onto the sea rescue craft and brought to the NSRI station at Port St Francis where the patient was transported to hospital in a stable condition by Private Care ambulance for further treatment.

NSRI assists SANParks crew in distress

NSRI STATION 21 - St Francis BayThe NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew were activated on Tuesday by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) following a request for assistance from a SA National Parks rigid inflatable boat with 4 SAN Parks crew onboard reporting to be in distress between Nqura Port and Bird Island after part of their pontoon was separated after hitting a wave.

The sea rescue craft JLK Rescuer was launched and MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) assisted by Telkom Maritime Radio Services diverted commercial fishing boats to attend.

On NSRI’s arrival on the scene the crew were found safe with damage found to be sustained to the pontoon that had separated.

Three of the four crew were transferred onto the sea rescue craft and the SAN Parks skipper remained onboard the casualty boat.

Supplies that they were transporting to Bird Island were transferred onto the sea rescue craft.

A towline was rigged and the SANParks vessel was without incident to Nqura Port