Further details of the final day of the stricken fishing vessel

See also:

Geo Searcher Wreck News Update

MFV Geo Searcher's Final Day

Additional archive photos showing the vessel and scenes relevant to the event.

Archive photo of MFV Geo Searcher during fishing operations at Gough Island in 2017.
At the time of the fatal collision with a rock on 15th October 2020, four power boats
exactly like this one in the foreground, and manned similarly by two crew members, were in the water.

Map of Gough Island

Map of Gough Island

The Geo Searcher was operating somewhere off the north west coast at the time of the incident
Map: Peter Minton (EVS Island), CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Summary of events on 15th October 2020

The MFV Geo Searcher was engaged in fishing operations off the far north-west coast of Gough Island on Thursday 15th October. Four powered fishing boats were out carrying out the regular operation laying and retrieving baited traps to catch the Tristan Rock Lobster ready to be brought aboard the ship for processing and freezing.

At a time to be confirmed (likely to be between 07.00-09.30) the ship struck a rock. This is thought to have occurred off the far north-west of the island. The damage caused ingress of water which soon overwhelmed the engine room. The stricken vessel is thought to have moved north-eastwards, but was listing, and when that list became 45 degrees, the ship was finally completely abandoned at approx 10.30 before it sank and was wrecked.

The four fishing boats remained in the water and they towed life rafts which formed a flotilla to enable the 62 aboard the stricken ship to cover the 16kms sea journey to Transvaal Bay. This long trip took approx. four hours, arriving in the bay beneath the Gough Met. Station.

Archive photo of MFV Geo Searcher in Transvaal Bay as viewed from
the plateau above which is the site of the Met. Station.

There were 60 crew aboard the MFV Geo Searcher and two Fishery Observers from Tristan da Cunha: Former Chief Islander Ian Lavarello and Rodney Green. The South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA) has reported that crew are composed of 47 South African, 3 Portuguese, 1 British,2 Ghanaian, 1 Indonesian and 4 Namibian nationals.


The operation to lift the 62 rescued seamen took until 19.00 when all were safely inside the South African Government Meterological Station on the island ready indeed for a good meal.

The archive photo right shows the same lift in operation in 2017 showing how people are lifted from sea craft on an inflated platform slung from a line operated by the crane above. It was reported that this process took four hours to complete safely during the late afternoon and early evening of 15th October as all 62 previously aboard the MFV Geo Searcher were winched to safety using this method.

Crowded Gough Met. Base

Archive aerial photo. showing the South African Government Meterological Station
on the plateau above Transvaal Bay on Gough Island.
A station which has 62 unexpected guests until the arrival of SA Agulhas II,
which departed Cape Town during the morning of Friday 16th October on a mission to rescue them.
We will publish a separate page about the Agulhas' voyage soon.