‘Retrieval impossible’

Bringing closure

04 March 2020 | Accidents

Walvis Bay

Hangana Seafood said that based on the opinions of various experts, it had concluded that there is no reasonable prospect of finding the missing captain alive or recovering his body from the wreck.

The company, a subsidiary of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group, said it had decided after careful consideration that it was not a viable option to send divers or use a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to try and locate the missing captain Gordon in the sunken wreckage.

Hangana reiterated that the cause and circumstances of the sinking is currently under independent investigation by the Directorate of Maritime Affairs (DMA), which is being led by the port captain of Walvis Bay and the chairperson of the Retired Fishermen’s Union.

The company said it will welcome the conclusion of the investigation and publication of the DMA’s report into this tragic incident.
Hangana also announced that it would be holding a special service at its premises in Walvis Bay for family and friends in honour of Captain Gordon and to assist everyone affected by the tragedy to deal with the incident at a date to be arranged.

The company said that in consultation with Walvis Bay Diving, it was established that even with the use of highly sophisticated equipment, diving at these depths is at the outer limits of human capability and would be a highly dangerous undertaking.
A search of the wreck of the Resplendent in conditions of poor visibility and with currents measuring up to 7 knots, renders the operation extremely dangerous and near impossible.

The company said that due consideration was also given to the prospect of contracting a specialized vessel to perform a survey of the wreck using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to locate Captain Gordon.

An ROV functions as a visual aid only and does not have the capability to recover persons from the seabed. Moreover, it has significant limitations.

The vessel sank at a depth of approximately 318 metres. The depth of the vessel and the conditions at the seabed are such that visibility is very poor and a ROV of type needed would only be able to inspect the exterior of the wreck, once located.

Search and rescue

The company said that its management had focused intensely on the search and rescue operations for Captain Gordon after the sinking of the Resplendent occurred.

Hangana Fishing said that it had invited the captain’s close family members to fly to the accident site to view the vicinity first-hand from the air as a gesture of goodwill and to help the affected parties come to terms with events.

On Friday, 28 February, Captain Gordon’s wife and children carried out two extensive flights accompanied by their housekeeper. A moment of silence was observed during the flight while the family members scattered flower petals over the site.

The company also provided the following timeline of events:
The MFV Resplendent sailed from Walvis Bay on 17 February 2020 at 19:00, with 27 crew members on board and skippered by Captain Carlo Gordon.
The vessel reached the fishing grounds at 07:00 on 18 February 2020 and commenced trawling.
At 12:30 on 18 February 2020, the captain received reports from the crew of sudden flooding of seawater into the vessel. The captain took emergency measures at once. All fishing was stopped.
At about 12:45 on 18 February 2020, Captain Carlo Gordon radioed Captain Jerome van Wyk of the MFV Fisher Bank for assistance.
At 13:00 on 18 February 2020, the Resplendent sent out a distress call and the captain gave instructions to the crew to take emergency measures to abandon the vessel. The crew deployed the life rafts and put on life jackets.
The MFV Fisher Bank was the first responder on the scene and started rescuing the crew at once. The second responder, MFV Victory from Seaworks, became involved in the rescue and lifted 17 crew members from the water.
Following a head count by the captains of the rescue vessels (Captain Jerome van Wyk of the MFV Fisher Bank and Captain Hanavi of MFV Victory), a total of 26 crew members were confirmed as rescued, leaving Captain Carlo Gordon as reported missing. Both vessels started an immediate search for the Captain.
A number of other vessels arrived on the scene to take part in the search They were Victory from Seaworks; Equinos from Cadilu; Wiron V Itingwege from Pereira; Muxia from Merlus; MFV Begonia from Hangana as well as the patrol vessel Anna.
After a procedural 24-hour search, with no success, the search was officially called off. Hangana Seafood, however, continued to keep the MFV Begonia engaged in the search.
On 19 February 2010 at 06:30, the rescued crew members arrived back at shore at Hangana jetty and, where needed, received medical attention at once.
Hangana Seafood continued to explore private search and rescue efforts and, to that end, made immediate contact with a leading international salvage company, Resolve Marine Group, and consulted Captain Nick Sloane.
Resolve is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, and has been actively involved in global salvage and wreck removal for the last 30 years. Captain Sloane is the Vice President of ISU (International Salvage Union) and led the highly publicized and largest ever wreck removal operation of the passenger liner, Costa Concordia, which sunk after striking a rock off the coast of Italy in 2012.
After meeting with Resolve Marine Group on 20 February 2020, it was determined that the most effective search operation would be an aerial survey, based on factors such as speed, visibility, distance covered, the depth of the sunken vessel as well as the wind and sea currents.
On Friday, 21 February 2020, Hangana Seafood commenced a two-day aerial search for the missing Captain over an extensive area of sea and sea-shore. The team comprised Hangana Managing Director, Herman Theron; Tari van der Merwe of Walvis Bay Diving; Graham Riddell from Resolve Marine Group as well as two pilots. Unfortunately, the team found no trace of the captain and no debris from the vessel.

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