New NSRI vessel on 1,900km voyage to safeguard KZN north coast

08 June 2023 - 12:05
By Suthentira Govender
The National Sea Rescue Institute's newly built offshore rescue craft leaves Cape Town for Richards Bay
Image: NSRI The National Sea Rescue Institute's newly built offshore rescue craft leaves Cape Town for Richards Bay

A newly built rescue vessel, part of the National Sea Rescue Institute stable, is on a 1,900km voyage from Cape Town to Richards Bay where it will be stationed to safeguard the KwaZulu-Natal north coast.

The NSRI is the only maritime rescue service operating in South African territorial waters and there’s a growing need to have modern rescue vessels like the offshore rescue craft (ORC).

Brett Ayres, director of NSRI rescue services, said the vessel is the fifth of its kind to be added to the fleet.

“Rescue 19 will be able to cover the northern coastline of KwaZulu-Natal up to the Mozambique border. This is one of many reasons why this latest ORC went to Richards Bay,” he said

.The total distance the ORC is travelling to KwaZulu-Natal is 1,068 nautical miles which is equivalent to more than 1,900km.

A map detailing the 1900km journey
Image: NSR A map detailing the 1900km journey

The first stop was Mossel Bay to refuel and restock supplies. 

“The reason the ORC is travelling at sea is because its much cheaper to take it this way rather than road freight,” said Ayres.

“Preparing for a trip of this nature requires a lot of planning. One needs to do a full passage plan, as well as consider logistics, weather and sea conditions.

“A passage plan is a process where you consider all the hazards and plot a safe passage, with all the different bearings, speeds and fuel consumptions for each leg. You also must make sure there is enough fuel on the vessel which requires a few stops along the way,” said Graeme Harding, NSRI training manager, who is part of the voyage.

Though most of the NSRI’s rescues are coastal and inshore, the coastline the ORC will serve shares a boundary with Durban & Ballito stations at the Tugela River, which is the largest river in the province.

“There is a need for this vessel in the area because the Richards Bay rescue base supports a lot of commercial shipping as well as yacht traffic. The distances and local sea conditions of the area make it essential to have a class one boat,” said Ayres.

“We will now be able to see a vast improvement in our capability to deliver rescue services in the northern parts of KZN. 

“As Richards Bay is our most northern class 1 station, they are located at an essential strategic location to cover our coastline. 

“We now have two ORCs in the province — the other in our Durban rescue base, meaning KZN is well covered — and that we can respond quickly and safely to a far larger coastal area,” said Ayres.


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