SA launches new research vessel

21 September 2007

South Africa this week launched the Ellen Khuzwayo, a R100-million scientific vessel that will conduct research on marine resources and oceanographic conditions in southern African waters.

Launching the vessel in Cape Town on Thursday, Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said the Ellen Khuzwayo, measuring over 43 metres, would be the flagship research vessel of the department, which has two other research vessels, the Africana and the Algoa.

He said that with a combined fleet of four compliance ships and three fisheries research ships, South Africa had the most significant marine presence within the region.

“The Ellen is named after the late Dr Ellen Khuzwayo – teacher, social worker, author and prominent figure in the struggle against apartheid,” Van Schalkwyk said. “We are pleased to honour [her] in our ongoing commitment to commemorate the significant role of women in our country’s history through the naming of our ships.”

According to the department, the replacement forms part of its strategy to upgrade its research fleet to provide South Africa with the best possible scientific advice relating to the country’s ocean environment and marine resources.

The ship was designed by Skipsteknisk AS of Norway and built by Cape Town-based Farocean Marine.

The Ellen Khuzwayo will be deployed primarily on inshore research, which includes scientific research on marine living resources such as rock lobster, linefish, large pelagic fishes, seabirds, marine mammals and sharks.

The vessel, which has excellent manoeuvrability and stability, will also engage in diving operations and monitoring and research of oceanographic conditions. It is equipped with two fully-fitted laboratories, one for fish sampling and another for oceanographic studies.

It is also fitted with advanced acoustic equipment for fish surveys, state-of-the-art oceanographic equipment and winches for deploying and retrieving its and instruments.

“The Ellen is a purpose-built research ship designed to operate anywhere within the South African [Exclusive Economic Zone], up to 200 nautical miles offshore,” Van Schalkwyk said.

“The ship has a steaming range of 2 500 nautical miles and can remain at sea for 18 to 20 days. She carries a crew of 13 and has accommodation for eight scientists.”

SAinfo reporter

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