As one of the shining beacons in the South African maritime fleet, the S.A. Agulhas II holds its flag high for all to see. Leisure Boating went below decks to find out more about the vessel that leaves for Marion Island in April and returns on 16 May 2016.
DESIGN AND BUILD PROCESS
Engineering design commenced in January 2010 and a system of Plan and Equipment Approval was agreed. This entailed several iterations of some 800 drawings having to be approved by the Department and this process continues to this day.
Key milestones in the construction process are as follows:
• 09 September 2010: Cut first steel, start of production
• 31 January 2011: Keel Laying
• 21 July 2011: Launch
• 31 December 2011: Functional completion
• 11 January 2012: Commence sea and acceptance trials
• 04 April 2012: Acceptance in Rauma, transfer of ownership
• 03 May 2012: Arrival in Cape Town The new vessel is the first of its kind to be built under the SOLAS 2009 Passenger Ship Rules. This posed a number of challenges to the Designers, Owner, Classification Society and SAMSA.
MAIN FUNCTIONS OF THE SHIP
The ship is designed as a multi purpose, logistic support and research vessel. Its logistic commitments include the servicing of the three bases, namely SANAE on the Antarctic mainland and the bases on Marion and Gough Islands.
The SANAE relief voyage takes place between December and March each year and, currently, this takes approximately 75 days. This involves ferrying all the winter supplies for the base as well as transporting the winter team and base maintenance personnel. Because of its increased power and ice navigation capabilities, the new vessel will be able to leave earlier in the season and return later, thus providing a wider window for research operations.
The Marion relief follows a similar pattern and takes place in April each year. Voyage duration is usually about six weeks, depending on whether any oceanographic research is carried out.
The Gough Island relief takes place in the spring months and includes the ferrying of passengers to Tristan da Cunha under an agreement with the British Government. Voyage duration is approximately six weeks.
The eight dedicated laboratories have been designed for maximum flexibility within their respective disciplines. All are served by the local area network and the research network distribution system.