SANAE 60 departed on 25 December at 22:20 from Cape Town harbour to Antarctica.


Address by Mr Ashley Naidoo, Acting Deputy Director-General: Oceans and Coasts
On the Departure of the SA Agulhas II to Antarctica, On Friday, 25 December 2020,
Greetings to all you all SANAP Participants, Crew, Team Members, Officer and Scientists. Most cruise on this ship have some unusal aspect associated with the cruise objectives, operations or destinations. A voyage to Antarctica certainly fits within this, but this year the cruise preparations also added several layers of uniqueness and firsts. I am Ashley Naidoo, Acting Deputy Director-General of Oceans and Coasts. How I wish I could have made this send-off message personally alongside the vessel as in past years. The pandemic has turned things up-side-down but through it all, here you are still dedicated to the programme. I would like to acknowledge your bravery, commitment, zeal and taking the bold step in ensuring success and continuity of this important work. The extended quarantine period coupled with the anxiety of waiting for the covid-19 test results was a huge ask – I thank you for your patience.

This voyage’s planning came with numerous pleas from your Principals to allow more personnel, sadly we had to once again reduce numbers to keep with the quarantine and social distancing protocols. Please convey our sincere appreciation to them and your organisations for their understanding. This does mean that our various teams have fewer than the usual numbers of members. Please continue practising ‘Ubuntu’ and lend a helping hand where it is needed.

I will not be doing justice if I do not send a special ‘cheerio’ to the eight incredible SANAE 60 over-wintering expedition team members that will be spending approximately 14 months on the ‘ice continent’. South Africa first embarked on a National Expedition to Antarctica in 1960. This was after signing of the original Treaty with 11 other contries in December of the preceding year. Worth mentioning is that amongst the S60 team are old and experienced hands who had undertaken Antarctic and Marion expeditions before. This team is quite privileged to have Mr Kagiso ‘Kg’ Malepe and Gerard ‘Boy’ Oppel who bring a host of experience to both the expedition and the programme. This includes Kg’s previous experience as Shore-based Chief Scientist for the Antractic relief voyage.

To all of you on board, the Scientists, the Harzard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) Expert, the team from the National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, to the DEFF coordinating team, with Ms Kusi Ngxabani the Departmental Coordinating Officer, her Assistant Mr Sibusiso Mhambi who will also oversee the Technical work, Ms Libuso Phalane, the Admin Officer and both Messrs Mazizi Salmani and Sabata Setona as Waste Technicians, thank you for working tirelessly before and during the quarantine period; Ultimate Heli crew, AMSOL crew and the team that assisted in packing of all supplies and ensuring they are loaded on the vessel. I cannot thank you enough in making it possible to get us to this point. I can’t help but send a special thanks to Mr Stiaan Kotze who, due to circumstances beyond our control joined the voyage at the eleventh hour. Stiaan will carry out environmental conservation duties during the voyage. The SANDF team that has been seconded to the voyage, thank you for once again availing yourselves to assist us. I am equally grateful to your friends, family and loved ones in affording you the opportunity to serve the Nation despite these trying times. The quarantine period even made your absence lengthier and on that note, please convey my heartfelt gratitude to your families.

For the first time on our expedition, we are blessed with a female Pilot, Ms Lisa Burger. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, takes me back to the 2019/2020 Antarctic relief voyage experience with yet another lady that joined the voyage as the first woman Driver. TJ Mareme actually drove more than 300km at no more than 20km p/hr in the big Challenger transferring cargo and fuel to and from the ice shelf. Well done Ladies. What an inspiration to other young women. Our society needs women like TJ and Lisa. Ke a leboga, baie dankie, ndiyabulela mantombazana!!!

The other good news worth sharing is the approval of the ‘Revised Antarctic and Southern Ocean Strategy’. The strategy provides, inter alia, for the coordination and implementation of the Antarctic Treaties Act (Act 60 of 1996) relating to research, conservation, sustainable resource use and environmental management in support of the African Agenda. This also contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals, by recognizing that the Antarctic and Southern Ocean are critical parts of the global climate system.

To the DEFF team behind the scenes, thank you for finding ways over and around the many stumbling blocks in preparing for this voyage. Through it all, the vessel is now about to sail with all the supplies safely on board.

To Captain Knowledge Bengu and crew, our well wishes are with you during this voyage and smooth sailing to the ‘ice’ continent. I know for a fact that as always, you will work tirelessly in ensuring living conditions and meals on board are of a high standard.

To all Christians on this voyage, may you have a blessed Christmas and, to each and everyone, a prosperous New Year! As you leave us behind, we promise to be safe during the Festive season and we will continue practicing safety covid-19 standards!

                                     I look forward to seeing you on your return from the relief voyage and expedition.

Nihambe kakuhle, Le tsamaye hantle, Hambani kahle, Mag dit goed gaan (of tot siens), Ga botse, Ndi zwone, Mufambe zvakanaka, Good-bye!!!

Cover Image:

Departure from Capet Town Harbour on Christmas day

Christopher Gray – SANAE60

Also see Video Clip on Facebook

© South African National Antarctic Programme • Managed and administered by Antarctic Legacy of South Africa • Photo Credits
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