One of the largest sea rescue exercises to ever take place in South African waters this sea rescue exercise involved 300 personnel, of which 101 were 'casualties', and 23 emergency services. Hamnet did not participate as it was outside our area of participation and mainly a sea exercise, but HAMNET were given observer status!
The scenario was as follows; at 09h15 the fully laden passenger cruise ship
COSTALOT (which was actually the SA Navy Ship SPIOENKOP) reported to Cape Town Port Control the she had run aground off-shore of Mouille Point and were fighting a blaze onboard and listing to one side.
Cape Town Radio (Telkom Maritime Radio Services) broadcast an all ships alert and played a pivotal role in efficient communications throughout the exercise.
Various emergency services kicked in and within a short while the first emergency vehicles arrived at the ‘strickened’ vessel to assess the situation.
Media were alerted to cover the story and on their arrival they were briefed and ushered to a media station where foreign consulates were briefed by the JOCC media representatives on regular intervals.
Treatment of injured passengers and crew took place on the shore at Mouille Point and at the Cape Town Stadium and ambulances transferred the injured to local hospitals.
The Captain and crew of SAS Spioenkop played a remarkable role in the exercise and made a huge effort to keep all of the 'exercise casualties' comfortable and welcomed aboard while awaiting their 'rescue'.
At one stage during the exercise nature threw the exercise a curve ball and fog rolled in, although only briefly, hampering the exercise but also giving us the opportunity to re-enact as close to reality as possible.
At the preliminary debriefing, held at Cape Town Stadium post the exercise, Ward Councillor JP Smith congratulated all involved and special thanks was acknowledged to the volunteers who took part in the exercise.
A formal debriefing will be held next week and lessons learned and good working practices will be shared with joint emergency services around the country. We look forward to digesting the full report when it becomes available at a later stage!
Reporting for Hamnet, this is Francois Botha, ZS6BUU.