In a race against time, Starlite Aviation currently deployed on contract on a Medevac standby contract, for PDS/GULP, was called in to evacuate the crew from Japanese fishing vessel, Fukuseki Maru, that ran aground near Cape Cross on the night of 21 March 2018. Under the command of Koos Myburgh, Jacques Coetzer and Andrew Abernethy with AME’s John Britton and Hennie Steyn, the 22 crew were hoisted off the vessel, utilising a Bell 212. The Indonesian crew was transferred to Walvis Bay and departed to their home country, the following day.
When the vessel struck the reef, she was carrying 130 tons of diesel, as well as 70 tons of tuna onboard. The tuna is said to be valued at around 30 million ZAR.
By April 6, a total of 226 hoists and 52 cargo slings were undertaken, during 35 flying hours.
All involved parties aim to ensure that the vessel be as light as possible in order to pull her off the reef. The tug Smit Amandla is waiting in close proximity. Should that operation fail, the salvage will continue; the vessel would be cut up and removed, piece by piece. The B212 should then be needed in the same roll, for about 6 weeks.
Starlite helicopter pilots and crew are assisting Nippon, a Japanese salvage Company and Bayair, with the salvage operation. Due to massive waves breaking over the vessel, the only means of transporting personnel and equipment required by the salvage team is by hoisting and slinging on the deck. The operation continues unabated.