SA Agulhas retired after final journey

2012-05-18 22:10

Johannesburg - The polar research vessel SA Agulhas has made its final voyage after arriving at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Friday, the environmental affairs department said.

"This was the last voyage of the SA Agulhas. Its replacement, the SA Agulhas II, arrived on 3 May," said Henry Valentine, director of the department's Antarctic program.

"We now have the advantage of both ships being next to one another at the Waterfront."

The ship travelled to South Africa's Antarctic base, Marion Island in the Indian Ocean and the UK's Gough Island in the Atlantic Ocean, where South Africa has a permanent presence, to conduct research.

The SA Agulhas was 34 years old and this necessitated its replacement by the SA Agulhas II.

"Thirty years is a long time for a polar ship. We had to replace it. Since we had the opportunity, we put the most sophisticated equipment in the new ship," said Valentine.

"It will be a much better scientific platform than the old one because climate change is happening, and the Southern Ocean is key to understanding this phenomenon, and it's on our doorstep."

Valentine said the SA Agulhas II would initiate an exciting period of oceanic research, as this was in South Africa's national interest.

"It's a sad day that the SA Agulhas is retiring, but it is being replaced by the latest in oceanic technology."

The SA Agulhas would now be used as a training vessel.

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