Amphibious Landing Craft in Antarctica
14 August 2009Ex-Army Amphibious Landing Craft are being given a new lease on life by the Australian Antarctic Division.
The Division has refurbished the surplus Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo (LARC) vehicles for use on sub-Antarctic islands, such as Macquarie and Heard, and in Antarctica.
Originally, LARC vehicles were developed by the United States Army in the 1960s and used to ferry supplies from ships to shore.
Last year, the Australian Army agreed to transfer eight surplus vehicles to the AAD and two of those have had a $100,000 refit.
Shipping Manager, Rob Bryson, said while the Australian Antarctic Program has used amphibious craft in the past, this will be the first time the Division has had its own LARCs.
"We used to spend a significant amount on hiring the LARCs and crew, and could take only one each season due to limited cargo space," Mr Bryson said.
"Now we have the capacity to leave one of the LARCs on Macquarie Island over winter and take down another on a resupply voyage to give us twice the ship-to-shore capacity.
"The Division hopes to eventually use the LARCs at the Antarctic stations as well," he said.
It's expected the refurbished vehicles will have a service life of up to 12 years and cost $5,000 annually to maintain.
Shipping Officer Mick Davidson said the LARCs are an ideal all-terrain vehicle.
"They can make surf landings in all types of weather, whereas the Antarctic Division's jet barges are unable to get close to shore in rough seas.
This is a critical issue, particularly to operations in and around Australia's sub-Antarctic islands," Mr Davidson said.
Today, 14 AAD employees will be undergoing training in the LARCs at Electrona.
The LARCs will go to Macquarie Island in October.