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After evaluating four RAF MR.2s in 1953, the South African Air Force ordered 8 aircraft to replace the Short Sunderland in maritime patrol duties. Some minor modifications were required for South African conditions and the resulting aircraft became the MR.3. These Shackletons remained in maritime patrol service with 35 Squadron SAAF up to November 1984.
ShipScene enables you to independently view ship movements that are tracked in all the major commercial South African port approaches and their harbours, without having to rely upon time consuming, and sometimes outdated means of obtaining this information. Using the Automated Identification System (AIS) which transmits from all commercial vessels, our ship tracking charts are updated on average every 3 minutes, giving an independent, almost real time overview of the movements of these vessels in and around all of the major ports in South Africa. This ship tracking information, together with other data freely available in the public domain, is intended for all users who have any interest in the shipping and freight forwarding industry in South Africa.
Colly said: "I don't think people really know what's going past our coast all the time. There's a constant stream of broken down vessels being towed past. Everything from North America and West Africa and other countries pass our coast to the Indian scrapyard. If the scrap is worth a lot, the owner will spend money on getting a decent tug to tow it. But a tug is $15 000 to $20 000 a day and it takes a month or two to get there.
"Fly-by-night scrap merchant entrepreneurs buy these vessels for next to nothing and put crew on them who have the impossible task to get the broken ships to the east. They don't have insurance and they all pass our coast," he said. When something went wrong and Samsa contacted the owners, "all you've got is a shadowy character on the other end of a phone".
According to the eye-witnesses this was a fishing trawler of sorts with movement/people on-board.
Our conclusion is that the ship most probably had engine and radio communication failure, fired a flare, got engines started and headed out to sea (to safer water as swell was 7 metres plus) prior to the arrival of the air force/nsri.