A 22 Squadron Oryx helicopter was used as a platform to launch divers who successfully rescued three fishermen off Velddrif earlier this week.
This is the second sea rescue SA Air Force (SAAF) helicopters have been part of within the space of seven days. Last week a pair of BK-117s from 15 Squadron’s Charlie flight based at AFB Port Elizabeth was instrumental in saving the lives of 24 fishermen whose boat ran into difficulties and eventually sank off Cape Recife.
The medium transport helicopter from the AFB Ysterplaat based squadron was called in to assist the National Sea Rescue Institute’s (NSRI) Mykonos station which had been activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority after a 5 metre crayfish dinghy based in Paternoster was reported missing at sea on Tuesday.
NSRI Mykonos launched its sea rescue craft Gemini Rescuer 11 at Velddrif and covered the area towards Elands Bay and back but could not find the dinghy. As the search progressed without result the use of an Oryx was authorised and it arrived in the area carrying a pair of NSRI rescue swimmers.
The helicopter found the dinghy with all three its crew aboard about six nautical miles off Velddrif. The swimmers were deployed and in relays all three the fishermen – the 24-year-old skipper and his two 26-year-old crewmen – were hoisted aboard the rotary-winged aircraft.
They were not injured but were nevertheless checked by Western Cape health department EMS paramedics once ashore. The dinghy was towed to Paternoster by the NSRI rescue craft.