The SA Navy has deployed the hydrographic survey vessel SAS Protea to assist in the search for the Italtile aircraft wreckage off Plettenberg Bay.
The Pilatus PC-12 executive aircraft was owned by Italtile Ltd was travelling from Queenstown to Plettenberg Bay when it crashed into the sea off Robberg last Tuesday afternoon. It is believed the aircraft was attempting to land at the Plettenberg Bay airport in bad weather. All seven passengers and two crew aboard were killed. The Navy ship arrived in the area late afternoon on Friday.
SAS Protea, commanded by Captain Theo Stokes, is equipped with state of the art equipment that will allow the ship to view items on the seabed. The Shallow Water Route Survey System (SWRSS) was extensively used in the FIFA World Cup 2010 in the harbours of Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. SAS Protea played a major role in ensuring the underwater security for the FIFA World Cup 2010 and managed to identify and classify 1800 items on the seabed in the three harbours. The survey equipment is very accurate in detecting items on the seabed and will allow SAS Protea to cover a large area much faster than human divers can.
SAS Protea was en route to the Algoa Bay area to conduct a survey of the bay, including the approaches to the new Coega Harbour, before being redeployed to search for the wreckage. As the hydrographic survey vessel of the SA Navy, SAS Protea is responsible to produce charts of international quality to ensure safe navigation of all ships, boats and yachts sailing along the South African and Namibian coastlines.