August 25, 2022

D-40: the Indian Ocean mission in full preparation.

The Indian Ocean expedition in full preparation.

As part of the preparation of the next expedition to the Indian Ocean, Gilles Bessero, director of Monaco Explorations Society, went to Cape Town in South Africa on August 9. On the agenda: visit of the ship S.A. Agulhas II, finalization of the charter contract and review of the additional services required for the smooth running of the expedition. This trip was organised in consultation with Dave Murray, Head of Offshore Services at African Marine Solutions (AMSOL), the South African government’s operator of the S.A. Agulhas II, the vessel to be chartered for the mission. As soon as he arrived, the Director of Monaco Explorations went to the port of Cape Town to visit the S.A. Agulhas II, accompanied by Margaux Noyon, a researcher at the Nelson Mandela University who will be one of the scientists on board. Welcomed by Knowledge Bengu, the ship’s captain, and guided by the electronics officer Orlando, Gilles Bessero and Margaux Noyon toured all the scientific premises and equipment as well as the working and living areas of the future crew. After this in-depth visit, they went to Marine Solutions, a company specializing in offshore intervention, to review the preparation of the installation and implementation from the S.A. Agulhas II of a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) Seaeye Cougar. This vehicle will allow scientists to take samples and to carry out underwater images and inventories of the biodiversity up to 700m depth. The following day, a planning meeting led by Dave Murray allowed for discussions with the main South African stakeholders on the mission objectives and the support expected within the framework of the charter, notably in terms of expertise, scientific equipment, data acquisition and processing. Dave Murray and Gilles Bessero then spoke with Shevon, a communications solutions company, about equipping the S.A. Agulhas II auditorium for video conferencing and upgrading the VSAT satellite communications system. Health support and medical protocol issues were then discussed with Dr. Truter, the physician who will be on board the S.A. Agulhas II during the mission. The day ended with a meeting to discuss the final adjustments to the ship’s charter contract and a meeting with Paul Maclons, President and CEO of AMSOL.
Foredeck from bridge
Wet biology lab
Dry biology lab
S.A. Agulhas II
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S.A. Agulhas II

Built in 2012 in Finland, the oceanographic vessel from the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, is 134 meters long and 22 meters wide. It is powered by a 12,000 KW diesel-electric system. It is crewed by 44 people and can accommodate 100 passengers. Designed to support South Africa’s Antarctic program, it is one of the largest and most modern research vessels in the world. It is equipped with numerous laboratories and equipment for oceanographic operations and marine, environmental, biological and climate research. It is a powerful and efficient platform for multidisciplinary research.