Macquarie Island Resupply
Macquarie Island is in the middle of our annual resupply and changeover of year-round station personnel. The 2013 station crew who have been here for the last 12 months will be heading home. Accompanying them will be all the MIPEP (Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project) personnel, who have mostly also been here for 12 months, and the summer science project personnel who have been here for up to 6 months. The station manning will drop from currently around 40 to just 15 for the coming winter.
The resupply this year is a little different from usual. Due to the longer duration of the Mawson station resupply being undertaken concurrently using the Aurora Australis, our changeover and resupply is being done using the French Antarctic Program research and resupply ship L’Astrolabe, which normally operates from Hobart to the French Antarctic station Dumont D’Urville. Normally when using the Aurora Australis, the resupply operation is done using a combination of helicopters and LARCs (Lighter,Amphibious, Resupply, Cargo). The LARC is a Vietnam War era ex-military amphibious truck which has proven itself to be an extremely useful tool for these operations at Macca and elsewhere. Without the usual helicopters, the LARCs and their dedicated operators just need to work a bit harder this year!
The cargo is mostly palletised into cage pallets. The ship’s crane lifts them into the LARC alongside the ship at about 600 meters off shore in Buckles Bay on the calm eastern side of the isthmus, the LARCs take them ashore to the isthmus, the JCB Loadall telescopic forklift lifts them off the LARC and transports to the station main store, the small forklift moves them to their destination in the store, and then a human chain gang moves the cage pallet contents to their final destination on the shelves in the freezer, cold store, or elsewhere.