S.A. Agulhas II
South Africa’s new polar supply and research vessel
The Agulhas II replaces the older and smaller Agulhas as South Africa’s supply vessel for its scientific and weather stations in Antarctica (SANAE IV located on a rocky outcrop several miles inland in the Queen Maud region); on Marion Island (part of the Prince Edward Islands group in the sub-Antarctic Indian Ocean, part of South Africa); and Gough Island (a dependency of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean). Unlike the older vessel, which had limited research capabilities, the new Agulhas II, which was commissioned on 4 May 2012, has state-of-the-art oceanographic and atmospheric research and monitoring equipment. To fulfill its resupply mission, the ship can carry up to 100 passengers, 140,000 cubic feet of cargo, and 500 cubic meters of polar diesel fuel. With an ice-strengthened hull and two controllable-pitch propellers, it is capable of a sustained speed of five knots in one meter of first-year ice. The Agulhas II has eight permanent scientific laboratories and can carry six containerized laboratories. Deep-water probes can be deployed through a large door in the side of the vessel or from a moon pool measuring almost eight feet by eight feet. It is equipped with a movable sonar transducer (called a drop keel) that can be lower almost ten feet below the hull to obtain more accurate measurements of things such as plankton density and ocean currents. The drop keel can also be raised into the hull to allow for maintenance and repair. The ship can also carry two medium helicopters. The 440-foot long Agulhas II was built by STX Finland to the latest IMO standards.