Sheriff Dies In 8 Meter Plunge From Ship’s Boarding Ladder

Police and the South African Maritime Safety Authority are investigating the death of a deputy sheriff of the court, who plunged at least 8m into the ocean while climbing a steep ladder to execute a warrant of arrest on Liberian vessel the Blue Marlin I.

Why the 190m Blue Marlin was to be arrested is not known as the paperwork authorizing the arrest was lost when Port Elizabeth North deputy sheriff Henry Kemp fell into the sea on Saturday night. Kemp, 42, had been a sheriff for about 20 years, his boss, sheriff Llewellyn Sharp, said yesterday.

Kemp had boarded a Port of Ngqura pilot boat to make his way out to the 32 957-ton Blue Marlin and had almost reached the top of the ladder in his quest to board the ship “when he paused for about two minutes before falling backwards”, Sharp said yesterday. The ship was four nautical miles from the Port of Port Elizabeth, about halfway between the two ports. Calling Kemp honest and helpful, Sharp said: “He had been tasked by the high court to arrest a vessel late [on Saturday].

“He left Coega in a pilot boat to serve [the court order] to the master of the ship.” Sharp said Kemp fell from the cargo vessel at about 7pm. About an hour later, Sharp was called to the scene.

“According to my information, he left the pilot boat and was climbing up the ladder,” Sharp said.

“On his way to the top, he paused for about two minutes.

“It was steep, and all of a sudden he fell backwards.

“The ladder was about 8m to 12m high.

“I’m not sure how high he was but he was close to the top.

“At 7.15pm, they recovered him.”

When Sharp arrived at the port at about 8.15pm, he went straight to a joint operations centre, where he was told just before 9pm that Kemp had died. NSRI Port Elizabeth station commander Ian Gray said the organization had played a supporting role in the operation as Kemp had been plucked from the sea by Blue Marlin crew members.

“We got a call at about 7.15pm from Coega port control about a person who had fallen into the water while boarding a ship,” Gray said.

“We were told he was unresponsive. We departed with a rescue and evacuation crew and metro emergency services.

“We went out in a Coega pilot boat and, when we got there, put metro emergency services paramedics in safety harnesses so they could board the ship.”

Gray said the paramedics had found Kemp unresponsive and later confirmed, via an ECG monitor, that he had died.Nelson Mandela Bay Emergency Medical Services district manager Brenhan Metune confirmed that two of his paramedics had boarded the ship and declared Kemp dead. Gray said as the ship was a potential crime scene, Kemp’s body could not be immediately removed from the vessel.

“A decision was taken that it was safer to bring the ship into the Port of Coega,” he said.

Deputy Sheriff Henry Kemp

Once the vessel docked, the investigation team boarded. Port of Ngqura port captain Thulani Dubeko confirmed the Blue Marlin “was brought alongside the Port of Ngqura to facilitate the work of all the authorities, including the SAPS and Samsa [SA Maritime Safety Association]”. He said the decision to dock the vessel was made after consultation between all the stakeholders and the ship owner’s representatives.

The vessel was no longer in the port last night and was instead anchored outside the port.

“The vessel is currently at anchor outside the port but within port limits. It is not yet determined when she will be released to sail.”

Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge confirmed an inquest docket had been opened into Kemp’s death, as did Samsa regional manager Bongi Stofile. Neither could confirm why the ship was due to be arrested. Sharp said Kemp had not been married and his next of kin had been informed of his death.


Source: Herald Live