The ships MFV Edinburgh, MV Lance, and SA Agulhas II make about 10 return trips from Cape Town to Tristan da Cunha each year.

There are about 10 scheduled return trips each year between Cape Town to Tristan da Cunha, operated by three ships - the MV Lance, the MFV Edinburgh and the SA Agulhas II. They all carry passengers, cargo and mail. Calshot harbour is only suitable for inshore vessels, so ships have to anchor offshore and transfer passengers and cargo to shore by raft, barge or ship's helicopter.

MFV Lance

MV Lance at Hirtshals

The MV Lance, operated by Ovenstone Agencies under their contract to run the Tristan fishery, is the island's main cargo vessel. She make about six voyages to Tristan per year, carrying a maximum of 12 passengers, and takes about 7 days each way. The turnround time at Tristan is about a week, but varies depending on how sea conditions affect off-loading and back-loading. Passengers are transferred between ship and shore on the island's cargo rafts.

The Lance was acquired by Ovenstone in 2021 to replace the ill fated MFV Geo Searcher. She was originally built in 1979 as a combined fishing and sealing vessel for Arctic waters, but refitted in 1980-81 as a scientific research vessel for the Norwegian Government and later upgraded. She was refitted for the Tristan service at the Hirtshals Yard, Denmark, increasing the size of the main hold and adding refridgeration. She made her inaugural voyage to Tristan in February 2022.

 

Dimensions:

2,370 gross tonnes
60.8 metres long
12.6 metres wide (beam)
5.7 metres draught
MAK 453 diesel 3,200 bhp engine
12 knots service speed

MFV Edinburgh

MFV Edinburgh

The MFV Edinburgh is Ovenstone's main fishing vessel. She makes about three voyages per year, also carrying cargo and up to 12 passengers. The turnround time at Tristan is between one and two months, while she goes off to fish around Nightingale, Inaccessible and Gough islands. Passengers are transferred between ship and shore on the island's cargo rafts.

MFV Edinburgh was built in 1970, and was previously named MV Hekla after the active Icelandic volcano. She entered Tristan fishing service in the 1980s and has a crew of 35. She was retired from fishing in 2017 following the acquisition of the MFV Geo Searcher. However, after the Geo Searcher foundered in 2020, she returned to fishing duties in 2021.

 

Dimensions:

1,085 gross tonnes
62.5 metres long
11.5 metres wide (beam)
6.1 metres depth
260 m2 cargo capacity
1600 hp Deutz engine

SA Agulhas II

SA Agulhas II

The SA Agulhas II provides an annual service to Tristan da Cunha each spring, carrying cargo and over 40 passengers. She normally departs Cape Town in early September, calling at Tristan before running on to the Gough meteorological station for its annual resupply and exchange of personnel. This voyage gives passengers an opportunity to have a stay of about three weeks on Tristan, making it a very popular and busy trip for visitors. Normally, Agulhas II passengers have the luxury of being transferred to shore by ship's helicopter, thus avoiding any delays caused by sea conditions.

 

Dimensions:

12,897 gross tonnes
13,687 tonnes displacement
134.2 metres (440 ft) long
22 metres (72 ft) wide (beam)
7.65 metres (25.1 ft) draft

She is served by a crew of 45.

The annual Tristan voyage is part of the arrangement leasing Gough Island to the South African Government for their Meteorological Station. Apart from this, the Agulhas II has occasionally been chartered for other operations in the islands. She rushed to repatriate the stranded crew of the MFV Geo Searcher after she sank off Gough Island in October 2020, and she also transported equipment, materials and personnel for the RSPB's Gough Island Restoration Programme in 2020 & 2021.

SA Agulhas was constructed in Rauma, Finland, launched on 21st July 2011 and completed fitting out in April 2012. She is designed as an ice-breaking Polar Supply and Research Vessel, and in Arctic sea trials successfully navigated ice up to 0.6m (2ft) thick. She services bases on Marion Island and SANAE IV Antarctica as well as the Gough met station, in a busy annual programme. She also undertakes research and other special projects, such as the successful 2022 expedition to search for the wreck of Shackleton's ship Endurance.

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