This week at Casey: 11 January 2019
Resupplying fuel, food and vital equipment for the year ahead
Resupply at Casey station started a little earlier than expected this year with the Aurora Australis breaking through the pack ice at a great rate of knots, and arriving more than a day ahead of schedule. Nevertheless, the Casey crew were ready and up for the logistical challenge of unloading a year’s worth of food, infrastructure supplies and fuel over the water from the Aurora anchored in Newcomb Bay.
In close coordination with the Aurora and with crews stationed both at the wharf and station side, shipping containers and plant were craned onto a barge, transported across the bay and lifted ashore at Casey wharf. Once on land, the logistics chain transitioned from a Mack truck and skid steer loader to a dedicated crew at the Greenstore (Casey warehouse) for further handling. With ‘troops rallied’ from all corners of the station, temperature sensitive priority cargo, such as food and scientific equipment, was unpacked and stored away safely, or hurried off to eager science teams awaiting to start project work.
However, as it goes in Antarctica, it was not all ‘smooth sailing’ and the weather did not always ‘play ball’. With the wind picking up, exceeding safe loading and barge operations limits, Aurora departed the bay for open waters more than once, to the disappointment of resupply crews. When the ship returned for its final time, so did some glorious weather, so with clear skies and light winds it was decided to start the over-water refueling operation.
Refueling is one of the year's major operations. It means pumping thousands of litres of SAB fuel (Special Antarctic Blend) in a pipeline across the water to tanks on station, in one of the most pristine environments in the world.
The operation is carefully planned and set up, with a hose attached to floats reeled from the Aurora across the bay to tanks in a lower fuel farm at the wharf. A hose then run across snow and ice to tanks at an upper fuel farm located at station. In total, nearly 2 km of hose is used for this transfer.
With equipment set up and multiple checks conducted by the refueling team, pumping was started. Again, with all hands on deck, a four-hour-on, eight-hour-off refueling roster was started. This involved a majority of Casey expeditioners in boats to ensure the fuel line remained ice free, line monitors to cruise along the fuel line to carefully monitor for the smallest leaks, and the tank and valve team. After nearly 32 hours of pumping, ‘the pig’ was launched to clear the line to the joy of the weary expeditioners and Aurora refueling crew.
With refueling completed, the final cargo was off-loaded and RTA (Return to Australia) cargo loaded on to the Aurora, just in time for the weather to turn sour again. So with grey skies and a 30 knot wind at its stern, the Aurora Australis steamed out of Newcomb Bay and away from Casey station for the last time in 2018. After fourteen days with over 550 tonnes of cargo unloaded and approximately 970,000 litres of fuel delivered to station, resupply was over – as the result of great work by all involved!
It was then time to rest, relax and enjoy a belated but extraordinary Christmas day feast.
Amy Hobbs & Doreen McCurdy
Get to know a Casey expeditioner - Amanda Darragh
From: Mandurah, WA
Previous seasons? Casey summer 2012/13
Job title: Communications Operator
Describe your role in two sentences: I primarily operate the radios – talking to all air, land and sea assets. Our team tracks and logs all movements, on and off station and make sure that everyone arrives safely to wherever it is that they are going.
What did you do before your joined the AAD? Futures day trading, contract air traffic control instructor and intrepid traveller. My background is in air traffic control, hence the comms role.
What is your favourite part of your job here at Casey? Looking out at the view on the walk up to work, and when things are quiet – being able to gaze out the window at the icebergs in the distance.
If you were not a comms operator, what would be your dream job? Being part of the organisational/logistic/recruitment team for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
How does this season at Casey compare to your previous seasons down south? The weather is totally different. Last time, during for the first month or so we had 'blizz Thursdays', this time we have perfect weather 'no ops Sundays'. The snow and ice has lasted longer which has meant we’ve had more time to explore Shirley Island, we are still able to get off station by vehicles and the ski loop is still open.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Get off station to the huts, go out on the ski loop and occasionally try to fit in some study (but in reality, I’ve watched the entire catalogue of Game of Thrones!).
What actor would play you in a film version of our 72nd ANARE season here at Casey? Reese Witherspoon – I imagine her throwing my Baffins (boots) with the same frustration that she does her hiking shoes in 'Wild'.
Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit? My Icebreaker thermals.
What is your favourite book / movie (or both) and why? Touching the Void by Joe Simpson, as it is the ultimate story of never, ever giving up. Movie wise – anything by Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie
What is your typical 'Slushy FM' genre? Do you have a particular favourite? 80’s, 90’s, 00’s rock with a little blues and jazz.
Describe your Casey experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste.
Sight – looking out over the bay at the icebergs, at any time of the day or night
Smell and sound – the penguin rookeries at Shirley Island
Feeling – actually getting the warmth and feeling back in your fingers after a glove malfunction
Taste – anything made in the kitchen – we have the most amazing chefs and assistants!
Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with? “Don’t tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon.” Paul Brandt
Something thing people may not know about you: I got my pilots license during my last year of high school.