This week at the station

This week at Davis: 25 January 2013

Davis resupply

It is a very hectic week at Davis with the arrival of the Aurora Australis. The ship is here to resupply Davis station with its essential food, fuel and other requirements for the coming winter. It will be at least another nine to ten months before it gets back to Davis, sometime in November. The ship will also take the summer crew back to Hobart after a very successful summer.

Davis resupply is capable of delivering up to 500 tonne of cargo and 900,000 litres of fuel to station. There are three ways that resupply can be done at Davis, the first is over ice. This is when the ship breaks into the fast ice and the ice is strong enough to support the weight of the trucks which then drive up to the side of the ship and are loaded via the ship's crane. This is by far the most practical and preferred method.

A lot of times the ice isn’t there or the condition of the ice not strong enough and resupply can then be done by fly off and fly on, where helicopters fly the cargo to and from ship. Naturally, the payload of a sling load on a helicopter is not the same as a truck taking a 12 tonne container, so it takes a lot longer.

Finally the last method is over water using barges. This involves the barges being loaded at the ships end and then unloaded at the Davis wharf. All three methods take a lot of planning and coordination but the end result is very satisfying. A lot of care has to be taken in fatigue management as the ship’s crew and expeditioners are expected to work in very cold conditions. But at the end of the day, after months of isolation, all the effort is well worth it when an expeditioner finally gets that fresh piece of fruit.

The ship Aurora Australis stuck in the thick ice during resupply
The Aurora Australis in the fast ice for resupply
(Photo: Bill.DeB)
Unloading cargo from the ship fast in the ice to a waiting truck
Unloading cargo during an over-ice resupply at Davis
(Photo: Bill DeB)
Aerial view of the ship stuck in the fast ice off Davis
Aerial view of the Aurora Australis in the fast ice
(Photo: Bill DeB)
Helicopters sling loading cargo from ship to shore at Davis over open water
Using helicopters for resupply
(Photo: Bill DeB)
A barge on water near the wharf at Davis doing resupply
Resupply at Davis over water using a barge
(Photo: Bill DeB)
A crane on the Davis wharf lifting cargo from a barge
Over-water resupply using the crane at Davis
(Photo: Bill DeB)

International visitors

This week Davis witnessed an event that may not have occurred before: three station leaders from the nearby international stations all visiting Davis at the same time. They came for a tour and dinner at Davis after they had accepted an invitation from the Davis station leader to attend. After a few false starts with unsuitable flying conditions it finally eventuated. It was a great afternoon/evening and it was amazing how much the four station leaders had in common. There was a great exchange of information and a building of long lasting friendships. The visiting station leaders were  Dr Aditi Krishnamurthy - the Indian SL, Dmitry Seroy - the Russian SL and Zhang Beichen - the Chinese SL. The Davis helipads were full of visiting aircraft.

Station leaders posing under the Welcome to Davis sign
The Indian, Chinese, Russian and Australian station leaders at Davis
Davis Station Doctor showing the international visitors his surgery
Davis Doc showing the visitors around his surgery
(Photo: Gavin HT)

Antarctic summer swim

The station will be in full resupply mode on Australia Day so the Antarctic summer swim normally held was brought forward to this Sunday. Some thirty brave souls took to the icy water which was -1°C.  The air temperature was exactly zero. Many stringent rules apply to the swim to ensure it is as safe as possible. Swimmers have to get a clearance from the station doctor and attend a full safety briefing before taking the plunge. 

The swimmers pose for a photo in their bathers ready to take the plunge
The brave swimmers lined up to take the plunge
(Photo: Bill DeB)
Station doctor in his white coat and ankle-deep in the water looking after the swimmers
The station doc takes his job very seriously
(Photo: Bill DeB)
A swimmer showing the effects of the cold leaving the water
Not as tough as you thought you were, are you Richy?!
(Photo: Bill DeB)
Four expeditioners posing for a photo after their Antarctic swim.
Bob, Richy, Tim and Nick are red from the cold
(Photo: Bill DeB)