Monday, September 24, 2007

Dedicated Research Vessel - Ellen Khuzwayo Launched

Dedicated Research Vessel - Ellen Khuzwayo Launched

20 September 2007

Media Statement

Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

THURSDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER 2007: The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, today had the pleasure of launching South Africa's new dedicated research vessel, the Ellen Khuzwayo. This new vessel will be the flagship of the research vessels that the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism operate. The two other research vessels are the Africana and Algoa.

The Minister announced that "the Ellen, as she is already affectionately known, is replacing the Sardinops after 50 years of loyal duty. The Ellen is named after the late Dr Ellen Khuzwayo, teacher, social worker, author and prominent figure in the struggle against apartheid.  We are pleased to honour Dr Ellen Khuzwayo in our ongoing commitment to commemorate the significant role of women in our country's history through the naming of our ships.

This replacement forms part of the department's strategy to upgrade the research fleet to provide us with the best possible scientific advice relating to our ocean environment and our marine resources. 

The Ellen is a purpose-built research ship designed to operate anywhere within the South African EEZ, up to 200 nautical miles offshore. The ship has a steaming range of 2,500 nautical miles and can remain at sea for 18-20 days.  She carries a crew of 13 and has accommodation for eight scientists. The systems on board allow the ship to operate anywhere in the SADC region."

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.  She will also be engaged in diving operations and monitoring and research of oceanographic conditions in our surrounding marine environment.  To support these operations, she is equipped with two fully-fitted laboratories one for fish sampling and another for oceanographic studies. She is further equipped with advanced acoustic equipment for fish surveys, state-of-the-art oceanographic equipment, and winches for deploying and retrieving the equipment and instruments.  These features, together with her excellent maneuverability and advanced stability, make her truly a world-class ocean research platform.

The Minister added that "with our combined fleet of four compliance and three fisheries research ships, South Africa has the most significant marine presence within the region, and on the African continent.  The Ellen Khuzwayo represents our continued commitment to making a strong contribution to marine research and compliance in the region."


The Ellen was specifically designed to operate in our regional waters, including the warmer tropics. She can freely range the 200 nautical mile zone and can have extended stays at sea for over two weeks.

The Minister further said "with the global community increasingly realizing the challenges of climate change, we will now be more prepared to monitor these changes in the oceans closer to our own shores, and to predict and reduce the impacts on our society."

The building of the three protection vessels and now the Ellen in Cape Town has made a significant contribution to the development of the local ship-building industry.  And even before she has sailed, the Ellen has broken records, in particular that of being one of  the heaviest loads ever transported by road / rail in South Africa as she made her way from Farocean to the Syncro-lift on 23 May 2007.


For Africa
P.J. Viviers


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