Navy frigate on South Atlantic rescue mission


The South African Navy has deployed a frigate to Tristan da Cunha island in the South Atlantic ocean to provide medical support to a Taiwanese fishing vessel. The Department of Defence says the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) asked the South African National Defence Force to conduct a search-and-rescue operation after a gas explosion on a fishing vessel on Friday.

The department said the Navy deployed the SAS Islandlwana to Tristan Da Cunha on Tuesday with teams from the South African Air Force, the South African Military Health Service and other state security departments aboard. They will provide medical care to injured crew members and transport them all to South Africa. The ship is expected back on May 12.

SAMSA spokesman Tebogo Ramatjie told the South African Press Association the explosion on the fishing vessel Lai-Ching was caused by an ammonia gas leak. There were 37 crew on board. Four are missing and 33 survivors had been picked up by a sister vessel, he said. At the time, the boat was 800 nautical miles south-west of Tristan da Cunha.

Ramatjie said the Taiwanese government had asked South Africa to respond to a distress signal from the vessel. South Africa was the closest maritime safety authority able to provide help.