Macquarie Island Resupply

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This week at Macquarie Island: 4 April 2014

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. 

A LARC amphibious truck is unloaded from the ship
Unloading LARC from L'Astrolabe
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)
The ship with LARC amphibious truck alongside
L'Astrolabe with LARC alongside
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)
The ship is seen out in Buckles Bay
L'Astrolabe in Buckles Bay
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)
The ship is seen lowering a cargo pallet to the LARC
L'Astrolabe cranes cargo to LARC in Buckles Bay
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
A closer view of the cargo being lowered to the LARC from the ship
L'Astrolabe cranes cargo to LARC
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
The ship is seen out in Buckles Bay past a group of king penguins on the beach
L'Astrolabe in Buckles Bay during resupply
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
A LARC is seen sailing toward the beach
LARC brings cargo ashore during Macca resupply
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
The LARC is seen driving up onto the shore
LARC drives onto shore
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
The JCB Loadall telescopic handler is seen lifting a cage pallet from the deck of the LARC
JCB Loadall removes cage pallet from LARC
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Two expeditioners are shown placing the pallet at the main store with the JCB
Graeme and Paul deposit pallet at main store. Graeme appears to be…
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
An expeditioner operates the JCB Loadall cargo handler.
Paul operating the JCB Loadall during Macca resupply
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
A cargo pallet is being moved in the main store using a forklift
Forklift to move cargo pallet in main store
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
An expeditioner is seen operating the forklift
Greg operating the forklift in the store
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Three expeditioners move cargo from the pallet into the cold store
Scotty, Evelyn and Ryan form a chain to place cargo items into…
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