Polar News

SA Agulhas II Chartered for Endurance22 Expedition

The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust (FMHT) has signed a charter agreement for the South African Polar vessel, SA Agulhas II, for its Expedition to find the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s iconic ship, Endurance, in the Weddell Sea.

The FMHT is pleased to confirm that it has signed an agreement with the South African Government’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) to charter their vessel, SA Agulhas II, for the Trust’s Endurance22 expedition, due to depart from Cape Town on 5 February 2022.  

The vessel, which is best in class and operated by African Marine Solutions (AMSOL), is a modern, highly capable Polar research and resupply ship, built at the STX shipyard in Finland and launched in 2012.  SA Agulhas II is 134m and strengthened for ice class navigation.  Two electric propulsion motors turn 4.5m-diameter Rolls-Royce controllable pitch propellers, giving a maximum open water speed of 16 knots, for a service speed of 14 knots.  Icebreaking performance is such that the ship can force a passage through level, 1m-thick ice at a speed of 5 knots. 

The nature of the vessel’s deployments, requiring the utmost dependability and operating precision in harsh weather, sea and ice conditions, has called for advanced functionality as well as very high reliability.  Bridge equipment includes a Dynamic Positioning System and an ice radar, with advanced ice imaging capabilities, assisting the navigators to identify the optimal route through icy waters and reduce fuel consumption and the risk of hull damage.  

The vessel has eight permanent laboratories and facilities and services for a further six containerised laboratories equipped and instrumented for various fields of marine, environmental, biodiversity, meteorological, climatic and hydrographic research.  

Accommodation is provided for 45 crew, and 100 researchers and passengers.  The ship has a library, a gym and a small hospital.  It has a high endurance factor, equating to 15,000 nautical miles at service speed, and is fitted with a landing area and hangar space that can handle two helicopters. 

SA Agulhas II was used for the previous Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 and proved to be entirely suitable for the research and wreck search work undertaken during that expedition.

Donald Lamont, Chairman of the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, said: “We are delighted to have secured the services of SA Agulhas II, undoubtedly the best possible vessel for Endurance22.  Not only does she provide the perfect specification for the task of locating Endurance, many of those involved in Endurance22 have the added advantage of knowing well both the ship and her highly competent Master and crew. 

On behalf of the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, and everyone involved in the expedition, I would like to thank the Government of South Africa and AMSOL  for their support.   Agreeing the charter is a significant milestone as we embark upon the quest to locate Endurance, and to keep her incredible story alive for future generations.”

To watch a video of SA Agulhas II in Antarctica, click here. Credit: The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

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