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AGULHAS on its way home

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agulhas-on-its-way-home_1Atlantic Ocean, February 10, 2012 South African Maritime Safety Authority’s own polar training ship Agulhas has set sail from one of the remotest places in the world, Crown Bay, which lies on the edge of Antarctica, and is heading home to Cape Town where it will arrive on Tuesday, February 12.

The ship is supporting veteran European explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes’, latest expedition. Dubbed “The Coldest Journey” Sir Ranulph and five colleagues will attempt to cross the continent as part of a major Commonwealth scientific project which will be the first ever bid to travel the 4, 000kms from coast to coast across Antarctica in winter.

The ship sailed for Antarctica from Cape Town a month ago on 7th January after departing from London where the expedition team joined the crew. Following 12 days of unloading and preparations alongside the ice shelf in Crown Bay, the Agulhas is returning, having successfully completed the mission to establish the expedition team with their equipment in Antarctica.

In addition to the six expedition members, a further eleven support group members were assisted by the ship’s crew and 51 cadets. “It was a perfect example of team-work” said Anton Bowring, co-leader of the expedition with responsibility for the shipping activities. “It has been a unique opportunity for the cadets to get experience of navigating and handling cargo in Antarctica, an environment unlike any other. They have worked hard and been a wonderful asset to the expedition. It has been a great pleasure to have them with us”.

“We very much look forward to joining forces with SAMSA, the ship’s owners, next December and hope that another group of excellent young cadets will be on board to experience the adventure of sea faring in Antarctica” Mr Bowring said.

SAMSA CEO Commander Tsietsi Mokhele said: “This is a proud moment for South Africa and Africa as a whole. The vessel was involved in a world first by supporting a crew crossing Antarctica in winter. The collaboration between the expedition and South Africa, coupled with the experience of the cadets is a wonderful example to the world. This is also an important milestone for the future generation of cadets who are looking towards the marine sector for employment.

“For the next 12 months while the expedition is crossing Antarctica and before the Agulhas is commissioned again to collect the expedition team at the completion of their journey, the ship will engage in further voyages with their complement of young trainees starting with a scientific voyage for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

“All of this will be supported by our marine corps of recruits who are destined to gain the kind of experience they would never have had before.”

The media are invited for the welcoming reception of the Agulhas and our brave cadets and crew, together with the remaining team of the expedition who will be returning to London. The ship is expected at 8am on Tuesday, February 10 at Quay 500 at the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, Cape Town.

For pictures on the expedition, please go to www.fbicommunications.com

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