Ian Gray, NSRI Port Elizabeth station commander, said:
At 09h33, Sunday, 8 April NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew were activated following reports from the Noordhoek Ski-Boat Club of 2 scuba divers reported missing during a dive 2 nautical miles off-shore, South of Cape Recife.
It had been reported that at around 09h20 the MTC (Marine Training Centre) commercial boat had a group of recreational scuba divers in the water being led by a dive master and at the same dive they had a dive instructor with a student diver conducting a deep-sea dive.
While diving the dive master, finding visibility conditions to be poor at the dive site, he called for the dive to be aborted.
The recreational divers and the dive master surfaced and they were recovered onto the dive boat but the Instructor diver and the student diver, who were conducting the deep-sea dive, had surfaced away from the boat and against the morning sun they could not be seen in the water by the crew on the dive boat (although the 2 divers could see the dive boat) and they started to drift further away from the dive boat.
The crew on the dive boat, fearing that the 2 deep-sea divers may not have surfaced, started a search and contacted Noordhoek Ski-Boat Club at 09h30 to raise the alarm and Noordhoek Ski-Boat Club alerted NSRI Port Elizabeth.
The Noordhoek Ski-Boat Club activated a Noordhoek Ski-Boat Club ski-boat to go to the scene and an additional MTC commercial boat and 2 CDC commercial boats went to the scene to join the MTC dive boat that was already there conducting a search.
The dive boat had deployed a flotation Buoy with 2 life-jackets attached to the flotation buoy to increase visibility which was deployed to mark the initial position of where the dive was taking place.
NSRI Port Elizabeth launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of Toft and the sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski 4 was towed to the Noordhoek Ski-Boat Club and launched at the club slip way.
EC Government Health EMS, a Police Dive Unit, the NMB (Nelson Mandela Bay) Beach Office ands Water Rescue Committee, Coastal Water Rescue and an EMS helicopter, Aeromed 3, were activated.
The 2 sea rescue craft joined the 5 boats that were on the scene South of Cape Recife.
EMS ambulances stood by at Noordhoek Ski-Boat Club.
Coastal Water Rescue were deployed to cover a shoreline search.
A search pattern was given to the Aeromed 3 EMS helicopter and they flew a search operation with those given instructions.
Police divers prepared to begin a dive search at the initial dive site.
NSRI took all 7 boats (2 NSRI craft, the initial MTC dive boat, the sister MTC boat, the Noordhoek Ski-Boat Club ski boat, and both CDC commercial boats) 100 meters apart and a sweeping line search was initiated following the direction of the currents and wind direction with NSRI sea rescue craft Spirit of Toft in the middle of that sweeping line search with 3 boats on each side of Spirit of Toft and taking into account the wind speed and direction and taking into account the sea currents and the initial location of where the divers were meant to be – if they had surfaced and had drifted away then the middle boat of the sweeping line search (NSRI’s Spirit of Toft) should come across the divers on that track.
During the sweeping line search at 12h13 we came across the 2 divers floating approximately 4.5 nautical miles (8.33 kilometres) North East from the initial area where they had been diving and they were approximately 4 nautical miles off-shore in line with Coega.
An NSRI rescue swimmer was deployed into the surf and the 2 divers were recovered onto the sea rescue craft.
They were both in good spirits and they were treated for mild hypothermia but otherwise they were only a bit tired and obviously happy to be rescued.
They were brought to shore at the Noordhoek Ski-Boat club where EMS paramedics checked them out and they were released requiring no further medical attention.
They confirmed that with the sun behind them, they could see the dive boat but the dive boat could not see them after they had surfaced and they drifted further away until they could no longer see their dive boat but they could see that a search had been started.
While drifting they made themselves comfortable, they stayed together and drifted. At one stage they could hear the helicopter and knowing a search was underway they later heard the motors of the boats searching for them before Spirit of Toft came across them during that first leg of the sweeping line search.
Both local adult males, diving instructor Jean Snyman, 45, and his student diver Rezano Damoense, 36.
NSRI commend all services and the private and the commercial boats involved and Noordhoek Ski-Boat Club. In particular the MTC commercial dive boat that raised the alarm without any hesitation and marking the initial site and then beginning a search they are commended.
It came to our attention only after the rescue operation that Juan Damoense applied to join NSRI Port Elizabeth as an NSRI volunteer and his application was accepted 2 weeks ago and although he has not yet started his training he is an NSRI trainee crewman.
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