Iconic ocean-going Emergency Towing Vessel to be retired


Having delivered nearly five decades of service to the regional and international maritime industry since she was built in Durban in the 1970s, the iconic ocean-going Emergency Towing Vessel SA Amandla is to be “recycled.”

Almost 48 years old, she was brought into service as the John Ross, together with her sister tug the Wolraad Woltemade. The timeous actions of the Masters, Officers and Crew who sailed on her have saved many lives, prevented countless marine casualties from occurring and also tonnes of marine fuel from polluting the South African coast. Both vessels represented the first government subsidized emergency response capability in the world.

The tugs’ custom-design for the severe sea and weather conditions experienced off of South Africa earned them a place in the record books and, for a very long time, they were regarded as the most powerful of their kind in the world; the SA Amandla still achieving 20 knots in good weather conditions.

The Wolraad Woltemade was broken up in Inda in 2010, but as SA Amandla is on contract to the Department of Transport and working with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) to respond to maritime emergencies on the South African coast, the tug is a key part of the State’s pollution prevention strategy. It is on standby 24/7/365 at her home port of Cape Town, ready to respond to a callout within 30 minutes.

But 48 years is a long time in the harsh maritime environment. South African marine solutions company AMSOL, the owner, says: “Now at the end of the SA Amandlas’ working life, which also included many years conducting long distance tow jobs around the world as part of the Global Towing Alliance, a decision has been made to recycle her hull and machinery.”

The tug holds a very special place in many hearts and was a home away from home for hundreds of mariners over the years. To honour this legacy and those involved in the SA Amandla story through the years, and to celebrate the tug’s iconic place in maritime history, a number of events including a public Open Day will take place in August in Cape Town.

Thereafter, SA Amandla will depart South Africa on her final voyage during September.

Built in Durban at the Elgin Brown & Hamer shipyard in 1976, the 2 899-gt vessel has a length of 95 metres and beam of 15 metres.