Sea Rescue Magazine
This morning I checked the AIS (Automatic Identification System) tracking on our two ORC vessels being delivered from France and located them just on the other side of the Suez Canal, on their way to Singapore before rerouting to Cape Town. Initiated in 2015, the ORC project (vessels for Durban, Alick Rennie, and Simonís Town, Donna Nicholas), is finally bearing fruit and we wait in anticipation for their delivery to Cape Town in March or April. The vessels not only provide the physical resource to deliver offshore rescue capability, they also symbolically represent the aspirations and pride of an entire institute in service of our maritime nation. We canít wait, one, to put Alick Rennie into operation and, two, get Donna Nicholas into the boatyard to take a mould off her before we complete her and send her to Simonís Town! She will provide the mother mould for future ORCs built right here in Cape Town. We will share this experience, in some way, with you all!
As the Department of Transport meets in Durban in February to discuss the draft Maritime Transport Strategy for 2030, we are cognisant of the risks to seafaring personnel and passengers, brought home to us every day as we respond to incidents up and down the coast as well as inland. The Occupational Health and Safety Act stops at the highwater mark and personnel working on vessels do not have the same regulatory protection as their land-based counterparts. Recent ships-pilot injuries and deaths have underlined the need for fall protection and regulation related to climbing pilot ladders. Mass Rescue Operations (MROs) like the Miroshga, Thandi and Lincoln raise serious questions about the wearing of appropriate life jackets at all times at sea, and the availability of mass evacuation systems from ferries in particular, and ships or vessels in general. There is simply no way a mixed crew of adults, children, elderly and infirm can reach life rafts, given that most are stored on a vesselís roof and that there are no evacuation slides to reach them once deployed. Our experience is that, once deployed, life rafts are blown away in the wind and are useless to those who need them! We hope that the authorities will reflect and adjust policy towards safety.
Sea Rescue is a flexible, agile and responsive service, by pure necessity, and so in 2019 we have taken the bold step of going cashless in accepting donations, which improves security for donors and provides the assurance that every cent ends up reaching its intended destination. We have adopted technology in a tap, snap and zap form (a reference to credit cards, SnapScan and Zapper), with facilities available through cellphones and banks, both ubiquitous in modern commerce and universally available in an evolving donor community. We are confident that this provides a more satisfying philanthropic experience, better security and a lasting relationship with our loyal donors, now almost numbering 100 000! (See News, page 28.)
Thank you for being part of this huge life-saving effort and for your continuous feedback that shapes our decision making.
Winter is here Ė buckle up that life jacket!
Dr Cleeve Robertson