This week at Casey: 9 November 2018

The new Casey team's second week on the ice.

The Casey week in review

The tempo of the summer season is upon us as we complete our second week. The team has expanded with the arrival of two Air Force C-17 flights to take station numbers to 61 and deliver cargo for several of the science projects and infrastructure. The team is working its way through the various inductions and training programs to ensure we are all safe to operate in and around Casey Station. The training has included vehicle training, survival training, as well as search and rescue and fire team response.

The weather has continued to impress with its ability to change in the blink of an eye, going from a blue sky morning, to a blizzard throughout the day, followed by a beautiful, still evening.

Overall, everyone is getting on with business and relishing an outdoor stroll to Reeve Hill or the wharf when opportunity presents and really enjoying the beginning of wildlife appearing closer to station.

Sunset lighting on the Casey sign post with a background of Newcomb Bay and foreground of snow and rock
Casey’s Corner
(Photo: Chris MacMillian)
Blue and Green Hägglunds parked and plugged in waiting for their next job
Häggs lined up.
(Photo: Chris MacMillian)
Five expeditioners in a group photo with Newcomb Bay in the background
Wharf walk
(Photo: Chris MacMillian)
Large forklift moving forward with tracker in the background and the green stores building
Working around station.
(Photo: Chris MacMillian)

Antarctic logistics - Getting 'stuff' when you need it at Casey

Some people believe that the fundamental task of a logistician is to make ‘stuff’ and ‘things’ get from point A to point B. When you consider the remoteness of the Antarctic supply chain which is required to deliver critical scientific research equipment to Casey station for Australia’s Antarctic Program, this is a simplistic summary. Moving that ‘stuff’ and those ‘things’ 3500 kms across the Southern Ocean to the coldest, windiest and driest continent on earth, to finally reach Casey station brings many complex challenges! Our supply chain requires careful coordination of many different methods of transportation to ensure our scientists have the right equipment at the right time because we need them to focus on improving our understanding of global climate change, sustainability, and managing human impacts on the Antarctic continent! Cue the Royal Australian Air Force as our heavy airlift support on the first transport mode to destination Casey.

The Royal Australian Air Force has been delivering heavy lift cargo in support of the Australian Antarctic Program since November 2015. The C-17A Globemaster is operated by 36 Squadron, has a range of over 10,000 kms and the ability to carry over 76 tonnes of cargo. This week the C-17A successfully delivered critical research equipment, fresh food and our new expeditioners into Wilkins Aerodrome. As part of our scientific need to store and transit samples and other equipment at differing temperatures, we also trialled our custom-built air transportable cold chain storage solution on the C-17A. This awesome heavy airlift capability allowed us to move our equipment and personnel into Casey station quicker to get our scientists moving! Once they were on the Terra Bus and on their way to the station, it was time to offload the cargo for ground transport to Casey. Cue Hägglunds and sleds for the next mode of transport to destination Casey.

With Wilkins approximately 70 kms south-east of Casey station, we started the day early to load the trailer sleds which would bring our new cargo back to the station. After a 4.5 hour Hägglunds journey, we arrived at Wilkins to greet the C-17A and transfer the pallets of equipment onto two specifically designed sleds towed behind the Challenger for transport. There’s no moving quickly in this vehicle, we were averaging 14 km/hr over ice back down the plateau with our precious cargo. By then it was midnight and we were lucky enough to catch the Antarctic sunset on our 4.5 hour return journey to station before we unloaded the stores so they didn’t freeze!

We arrived back into Casey at 2 am and were greeted by smiling faces (and many poor dad jokes) from the team waiting to help with the unload of fresh food. I’ve never heard people so happy about the taste of those sweet oranges. Despite the unpredictable weather challenges, the C-17A heavy airlift capability had delivered yet again! 

Plane at Wilkins Aerodrome on an ice runway on a beautiful sunny day
C-17 at Wilkins
(Photo: Lauren Bishop)
Antarctic Circle sign with a tractor with two pallets being towed carrying four larger containers
Cargo on its way to Casey at the Antarctic Circle sign.
(Photo: Lauren Bishop)

Getting to know a Casey expeditioner - Andrew Frankham

Name: Andrew Frankham

Nicknames: Franko

From: Gladstone, QLD

Previous seasons? First time

Job title: Electrician/Instrument Technician, Brewmaster, Hobby Hut Co-ordinator

Describe your role in two sentences: Keeping everyone in the Red Shed warm and lit up, while ensuring everyone has a delicious beverage to sip on Friday night at Splinters Bar.

What did you do before your joined the AAD? Instrument Maintenance Technician in Oil and Gas processing facilities in Queensland

What is your favourite part of your job at Casey? Every job, even the normally mundane ones are incredibly exciting. How many jobs can you say are an adrenalin rush just to walk between buildings? The second day on station we had a power outage and needed to walk between the power houses to reinstate the power during a blizzard with gusting winds to 50 knots with −20.4ºC wind chill, what a rush! Plus each morning on the way to work you can look out into Newcomb Bay and see icebergs casually floating around. This place is magic!

If you were not a Sparky what would be your dream job? Fighter Pilot, Marine Biologist (free scuba diving), or Sea Pirate arrrrgh!

How does this season at Casey compare to your previous seasons down south? N/A

What do you like to do in your spare time? Travel, camping, fishing, diving, snowboarding, building hollow wooden surfboards.

On station? Go for walks to see penguins/seals/icebergs/any of the other amazing things one will witness down here.

What song sums up your Casey experience so far? “I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again”

What actor would play you in a film version of our 72nd ANARE season here at Casey? Jack Black

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit? My survival gear ice axe, I know it may have other purposes but any photo can be made that much cooler if you're holding an ice axe!

What is your favourite book/movie (or both) and why?
Book = “Don’t tell mum I work on the rigs” by Paul Carter, as it’s a non-stop laugh and hard to put down, and very relatable to the happenings in the oil and gas industry.
Movie = Super Troopers, because the quotes can be used for everything in day to day life. “Meow hurry up meow”

What is your typical 'Slushy FM' genre? Do you have a particular favourite? So far I’ve only done one slushy duty since being here (1.5 weeks) and I was on with Plumber Pete, who was cranking a bit of country and western (which is basically music about 4x4 trucks, guns, dogs, dirt roads, the girl that left me, the girl I just met, heartbreak, mumma said etc), but next slushy I’ll be picking some indie from the 90’s/2000’s

Describe your Casey experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste.

The sight of huge icebergs on the horizon, the smell of penguins (a pleasant mix of a poultry farm and bird poo), the sound of a Hägg driving past your bedroom window at 2 am, a feeling that you are incredibly lucky to visit such an amazing place, a taste of the amazing food cooked on station by the awesome chefs Jordan Ramsey and Arvid and Justin, sensational!

Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with? “We are still searching for the mysterious Antarctic polar bear” (say it in David Attenborough’s voice)

Something thing people may not know about you: I’m a qualified snowboard instructor, and dive master.

Man standing in front of the Casey signpost in his googles, beanie, face cover and heavy jacket with the rocks and bay in background
Andrew at the Casey sign post
(Photo: Andrew Frankham)
Andrew Frankham with penguins in background on top of rocks
Andrew and his new friends
(Photo: Andrew Frankham)