12 December 2011
SA Agulhas II getting ready to set sail
Image: The SA Agulhas II , The Department of Environmental Affairs
The S.A. Agulhas II will undergo sea trials in January 2012 and expected to embark on her maiden voyage to Cape Town at the end of February.
The current SA Agulhas has served the country for 33 years, and embarked on her final journey to the Antarctic on the 8th of December.
Her successor, the SA Agulhas II, is going to be a one-of-a-kind, and the most modern and sophisticated research vessel in the world according to the Department of Environmental Affairs. The ship is expected to cost about R1.3 billion.
The ship's focus will be on supporting the operations of the SA National Antarctic Expedition base, which researches physical, earth and life sciences. The ship will be carrying supplies, personnel and researchers for the base, as well as supporting the Marion and Gough islands.
The island bases are used for biological, environmental and climate research.
Climate change, a global phenomenon, will affect every citizen of South Africa. South Africa, who is a leading global researcher in the Southern Ocean, is strategically positioned to do climate change and scientific research and will soon have the sophisticated S.A. Agulhas II to do this cutting-edge research.
The vessel will also hold fourteen laboratories - eight of which will be permanent while six will be containerised. The vessel will also have a weather station that transmits continuous data back to SA's weather service, and will also be observing marine life.
The Department of Environmental Affairs has the ship's plans online
- Times Live