Master of Melody honoured for seamanship

Dec 13, 2006
Author: P&S


The master of the MSC cruise ship Melody has been honoured for his exceptional seamanship in the rescue of a man who jumped overboard into the Indian Ocean in November.


Captain Antonio Siviero (right) and Ian Wienburg of the NSRI, on board the cruise ship Melody. Picture Terry Hutson

The National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa (NSRI) visited the cruise ship in Durban harbour on Monday night to present Captain Antonio Siviero with ‘a rare certificate of appreciation“ as a result of the dramatic rescue of a crewman who jumped overboard while the ship was on its positioning cruise to South Africa.

The 21-year old crewman became upset when his girlfriend, who was also a crew member on the ship, informed him that their relationship was over. He jumped overboard into the fast flowing Mozambique Channel as the ship sailed along the coast of northern Mozambique.

Captain Siviero, who gave credit to his officers and crew, related how he advised Search & Rescue in Cape Town that the ship had lost a man overboard. He said he was advised that owing to there being no other ship within 120 miles they would have to conduct the search by themselves.

“I told the crew we would find him and would continue searching until we do,” said Captain Siviero.

The ship put about and reversed its course in pitch darkness, and using a formula to calculate the apparent drift of the current and the likely position of the missing man, a search pattern was established. It turned out that twice during the night they passed close to the seaman, but owing to the darkness were unable to see him.

Shortly after dawn and six hours after having jumped overboard the missing seaman was sighted. Once he had landed in the water he apparently underwent a change of mind and managed to tread water throughout the long ordeal. Fortunately the Mozambique current is warm, especially at this time of year.

Once the man had been sighted a boat was launched and he was successfully recovered.

Ian Wienburg, chief executive of the NSRI said that the procedure of establishing a search pattern was a standard one that his organisation practiced with regularity.

“For us (the NSRI) to stop and turn our rescue craft is a relatively easy matter with a 10m rescue boat. Turning a 35,000 ton ship and coming back to the exact position where the man was thought to have jumped was something quite different and an example of outstanding seamanship of the highest order.”

‘Captain Siviero’s actions and those of his crew that night were in the best traditions of the fellowship of those who go down to the sea in ships,’ reads the framed certificate.

The rescue delayed the ship by five hours arriving in Durban. The rescued seaman and his lady friend have since left the ship.


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