Mozambique Channel

Coordinates: 18°S 41°E / 18°S 41°E / -18; 41
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Mozambique Channel
Location of Mozambique Channel
Mozambique Channel is located in Africa
Mozambique Channel
Mozambique Channel
Coordinates18°S 41°E / 18°S 41°E / -18; 41
Part ofIndian Ocean
Basin countriesMadagascar and Mozambique
Max. length1,600 km (990 mi)
Max. width1,000 km (620 mi)
Min. width419 km (260 mi)
Surface area700,000 km2 (270,000 sq mi)
Max. depth3,292 m (10,801 ft)

The Mozambique Channel (French: Canal du Mozambique, Malagasy: Lakandranon'i Mozambika, Portuguese: Canal de Moçambique) is an arm of the Indian Ocean located between the Southeast African countries of Madagascar and Mozambique. The channel is about 1,700 km (900 nmi; 1,100 mi) long and 419 km (226 nmi; 260 mi) across at its narrowest point, and reaches a depth of 3,292 m (10,801 ft) about 230 km (124 nmi; 143 mi) off the coast of Mozambique. A warm current, the Mozambique Current, flows in a southward direction in the channel, leading into the Agulhas Current off the east coast of Southern Africa.[1]


The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) defines the limits of the Mozambique Channel as follows:[2]

On the North. A line from the estuary of the River Rovuma (10°28′S 40°26′E / 10.467°S 40.433°E / -10.467; 40.433) to Ras Habu, the northernmost point of Ile Grande Comore, the northernmost of the Comore (Comoro) Islands, to Cap d'Ambre (Cape Amber), the northern extremity of Madagascar (11°57′S 49°17′E / 11.950°S 49.283°E / -11.950; 49.283).
On the East. The west coast of Madagascar.
On the South. A line from Cap Sainte-Marie, the southern extremity of Madagascar to Ponto do Ouro on the mainland (26°53′S 32°56′E / 26.883°S 32.933°E / -26.883; 32.933).
On the West. The coast of Southern Africa.

Islands in the channel[edit]





World War II[edit]

Graf Spee Incident[edit]

On 15 November 1939, under the command of Captain Patrick (Paddy) Dove, the British Coastal Tanker Africa Shell was plying through the Mozambique Channel en-passage from Quelimane to Lourenco Marques sailing in ballast. During the course of the morning, at a point 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi) south-southwest from the lighthouse at Cape Zavora, she was spotted by the German Pocket Battleship Admiral Graf Spee, under the command of Captain Hans Langsdorff, and which was embarked upon a commerce raiding sortie. Graf Spee ordered the Africa Shell to stop by the firing of a shot across her bow.[3][4][5][6]

Having stopped the Africa Shell, a cutter with a boarding party was despatched from the Graf Spee and subsequently boarded the tanker, the officer in charge addressing Captain Dove in perfect English with the sentence: "Good morning, captain. Sorry; fortunes of war."[4]

In time, the boarding party ordered the ship's company, save the Africa Shell's Master, into their lifeboats before stripping the Africa Shell of all foodstuffs including a small amount of wine. The crew were ordered to row for shore, however Captain Dove was taken prisoner on board the Graf Spee where he was to be held captive. Capt. Dove was incensed by the interception of his ship, and complained personally to Capt. Langsdorff, citing that the Africa Shell was within Portuguese Territorial Waters and that the action was in clear violation of international law.[3][4][5][6]

With the crew of the Africa Shell making their way to the shore, and with Capt. Dove transferred to the Graf Spee, the boarding party proceeded to set about the operation of sinking the tanker. Scuttling charges were placed within the ship, and their timers set, following which the party re-embarked in the motor launch and made their way back to the Graf Spee. With all personnel safely aboard the Graf Spee, Langsdorff and his crew observed the detonation of the charges which blew two holes in the Africa Shell's stern. Following this Graf Spee opened fire using some of her secondary armament of 15 cm (5.9 in) SK C/28 guns, sinking the Africa Shell.

Battle of Madagascar[edit]

In 1942, the Mozambique Channel was a World War II clashpoint during the Battle of Madagascar.


  1. ^ "Mozambique Channel". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  2. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition" (PDF). International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b "MV Africa Shell (1939)". Wrecksite. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Motor Vessel AFRICA SHELL built by George Brown & Co. (Marine) Ltd in 1939 for Shell Company of East Africa Ltd. - Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co. Ltd., London, Tanker".
  5. ^ a b Dove, Captain Patrick (1 January 1940). "I WAS GRAF SPEE'S PRISONER!". Withy Grove Press – via Amazon.
  6. ^ a b "I Was There! - Our Ships were Sunk by the 'Graf Spee' - The War Illustrated".

External links[edit]