We began the return voyage to Cape Town, South Africa, at 1900 hr on 1 December 1997. During the transit, the rig crews worked on the usual clean-up, painting, report writing, and PMS activities. In addition, we held a meeting with rig personnel, the Leg 176 Co-Chief Scientists, and the Leg 176 Staff Scientist to discuss approaches and operational options for a possible future deep hole (2500+ mbsf) in the Site 735 Southwest Indian Ridge operating area.

Good weather and favorable seas allowed the return trip to Cape Town to be accomplished in good time, and we arrived at the pilot station at 1030 hr, a 1998 nmi voyage averaging 10.9 kt. The first line was ashore at 1130 hr on 9 December 1997, officially ending Leg 176.

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