Catamaran wreckage that washed ashore on St Helena island in the South Atlantic Ocean has been identified as the Switch 51 cat Llama Lo that capsized off the South African coast in October 2015 after colliding with a whale, the St Helena government said in a statement on Wednesday.
“All evidence suggests that the wreckage of the catamaran [washed up] at Turks Cap Bay is that of the Llamo Lo,” the statement said. “The two crew members were rescued but the wreck was never recovered.”
Fishermen spotted the wreckage washed ashore at Turks Cap Bay late last month but were unable to investigate due to large swells. An initial press statement indicated the wreckage may be that of a South African catamaran. However, analysis of numerous photographs suggested a French vessel design.
A subsequent wreckage investigation by local St Helena resident Bruce Salt and South African maritime expert John Titterton pinpointed the Llamo Lo as the most likely candidate based on a careful study of photographic evidence.
Titterton said one of the rescued crew members had helped identify the wreckage from a picture showing bolts through the hatch. “He told me he had done that as the hatch had been leaking and he removed the plastic handles, put the bolts in and a baton to prevent the leaking,” he said.
Titterton had earlier eliminated the possibility that the wreckage could be that of the missing TUI Marine leopard catamaran that went missing while being delivered to Thailand in 2015. He said Robertson & Caine had confirmed the wreckage did not match their vessel designs.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has yet to comment officially on the matter.
In their statement, the St Helena government thanked Titterton and Salt for their assistance.