New SA marine-research vessel sets sail

The Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism’s new dedicated research vessel, the Ellen Khuzwayo, was launched by Environment Affairs Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk in Cape Town on Thursday.

He said the ship will be used mainly for inshore research, including work on crayfish, linefish, seabirds, marine mammals and sharks.

It will also be used for diving operations and for monitoring and researching oceanographic conditions.

The ship is equipped with two fully fitted laboratories, one for fish sampling and another for oceanographic studies, plus advanced acoustic equipment for fish surveys and state-of-the-art oceanographic equipment. It carries a crew of 13 and has accommodation for eight scientists.

Designed to operate in the waters of the Southern African region, it can freely range South Africa’s 200-nautical-mile economic exclusion zone and can stay at sea for more than two weeks.

“With the global community increasingly realising the challenges of climate change, we will now be more prepared to monitor these changes in the oceans closer to our own shores,” Van Schalkwyk said.

The ship is named after the late Dr Ellen Khuzwayo, a prominent figure in the struggle against apartheid.—Sapa

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