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.

  • Johann - 2012-05-19 00:04

    Now that is sensible spending. The weapons deal.... not so much.

  • Simon - 2012-05-19 01:29

    I was privileged to be the leader of Marion 35, the team who went on the maiden voyage of the Arugulas in April 1998 with Herr Funck as Captain, to Marion. Sadly he died before he was able to bring us back in May 1979 Dr. Simon Geldenhuys

      TaniaSandraSteyn - 2012-05-19 03:49

      It must have been an amazing experience for you. Dr Geldenhuys. Treasure your memories. I am sure many would like to follow in your footsteps.

      edgar.k.haberer - 2012-05-19 10:36

      Hello Simon, great to read your comment. I was the medic of Marion 30th and Gough 21st and of course I knew Cpt. Ernst Funk very well; I visited him and his wife at their home in Tygervalley Str. in Parrow quite a number of times. After the Agulhas I had arrived in CT from her delivery voyage from Japan on the 28th of February 1978, Cpt. Funk gave me a grand tour of the ship of which he was very proud. Funk was the first officer of the old RSA from 1963 and its captain since 1976. Best regards from Germany, Edgar K. Haberer

  • Pete - 2012-05-19 09:42

    I remember the review we did on the SA Agulhas on her maiden call in Cape Town for the SA Shipping News. I remember particularly the quality of the welding used in her construction: It was real work-of-art stuff. It's hard to believe she's retired now...

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