3 die at sea in tragic Kommetjie navy accident
3 die at sea in tragic Kommetjie navy accident. Photo: iStockPhoto

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3 die at sea in tragic Kommetjie navy accident

Four lives were saved, thanks in large part to a phone call from an alert resident…

20-09-23 23:17
3 die at sea in tragic Kommetjie navy accident
3 die at sea in tragic Kommetjie navy accident. Photo: iStockPhoto

Three people – including a female officer – have tragically died at sea, near Kommetjie, in a South African Navy vessel accident, whilst another person is in hospital, in critical condition, fighting for their life. Four other lives were saved today, thanks in large part to a call that an NSRI commander’s neighbour made to him.

NSRI’s station commander at Kommetjie, Dave Smith, said in a statement that his duty crew were activated on Wednesday afternoon (20 Sep) just before 15h00 after his neighbour phoned him to report what he suspected to be SA Navy personnel washed off an SA Navy vessel off-shore of Slangkop Lighthouse.

It was initially believed that seven male SA Navy divers were in the water.

Whilst preparing to launch an NSRI rescue craft, an MOB (man overboard) alert was sounded from SA Navy vessels off-shore of Kommetjie.

Two NSRI Kommetjie rescue crafts managed to rescue three of the male casualties, onto one of the crafts, and four onto the other. All were SA Navy Mariners.
CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) efforts were initiated on two of the men and once ashore, at the Kommetjie slipway, it was continued by paramedics, but sadly after efforts were exhausted the two were both declared deceased.
A third man was airlifted to hospital by a Netcare 911 air ambulance helicopter in the care of paramedics in a critical condition where doctors and nurses are fighting to save his life. “Thoughts are with the man and his family in this difficult time,” said Smith.
Unfortunately a female officer also died. Smith explained that “one SA Navy officer remained onboard the naval vessel and in a coordinated operation, during the late afternoon, offshore of Hout Bay, an SA Air Force helicopter deployed NSRI ASR rescue swimmers and EMS rescue paramedics onboard where the adult female was extricated from the vessel and CPR efforts were commenced.
“NSRI Hout Bay dispatched an NSRI rescue craft and crew to assist at the Navy vessel. Sadly, despite extensive CPR efforts, the female officer was declared deceased. The body of the female was airlifted to the NSRI Hout Bay rescue station.”
The bodies of the 3 deceased have been taken into the care of Government Health Forensic Pathology Services.
The 4 remaining crew survivors were lightly injured and did not require hospitalisation.
“Condolences are conveyed to the families of the deceased,” said Smith. “Thoughts are with all affected by this tragic accident. An investigation will be opened by the SA Navy and maritime authorities.”
Police have opened inquest dockets on behalf of the deceased.
The swift response and cooperation between all services (emergency, NSRI, City of Cape Town, SAPS, MRCC, TNPA etc.) involved has been commended.

Smith added: “My neighbour is commended for not hesitating in raising the alarm and we are confident his efforts contributed to saving lives today.

“At this stage all thoughts and efforts are concentrated towards the families who tragically have lost their loved ones, and the injured mariner, and our combined SA National Defence Force in this difficult time.”

Please support the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) – a charity organisation that saves lives on South African waters: www.NSRI.org.za