Monrovia, Liberia – On the 17th of July, the Sea Shepherd ship Sam Simon was alerted to the distress of the Liberian-registered cargo vessel Niko Ivanka by the Commander of the Liberian Coast Guard, as the cargo vessel was taking on water off the coast of Liberia, West Africa.
Sam Simon, under the command of Captain Thomas Le Coz, immediately responded to the distress call and set sail for the site of the sinking.
At 2300 hrs, Sam Simon was the first vessel to arrive at the scene of the distress and began conducting search and rescue operations. There was flotsam and debris in the water. Visibility was obscured by rain and darkness.
At 2316 hrs, six survivors were spotted in the single liferaft belonging to Niko Ivanka. Sea Shepherd crew supported Liberian Coast Guard sailors stationed on board Sam Simon to retrieve the six persons.
The six persons—who had been in the water for nine hours—stated that the vessel had sunk.
According to the survivors, Niko Ivanka left the port of Monrovia with 26-28 persons on board.
Shortly thereafter, Sam Simon crew heard voices calling for help. Another five persons were rescued after spending 13 hours in the water. Two were wearing lifejackets and another three were holding on to them.
In total, eleven persons have been recovered from the sea and are presently being treated on board Sam Simon by the Ship’s Medical Officer, who is an emergency room doctor.
The search for missing persons continues including two children. Two tugboats have joined Sam Simon in the search.
Since 2017, Sea Shepherd has partnered with the Liberian Coast Guard to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing through joint at-sea patrols under the direction of Liberia’s Minister of National Defense, the Honorable Brig Gen (Ret.) Daniel Ziankahn. To date, 15 vessels have been arrested for illegal fishing and other fisheries crime.
UPDATE: On July 19th, crew on board Sea Shepherd’s Sam Simon rescued another survivor, bringing the total count to 12. This survivor had been in the water for 48 hours. Search and rescue operations continue.