This award refers in particular to Mr Michael Stone’s term as Plant Inspector at Casey during the 1999 winter. As a result of RSV Aurora Australis suffering a mechanical breakdown and the subsequent rearrangement of shipping for the season, Casey did not receive its usual resupply in the 1998/99 summer. Although a replacement vessel delivered a quantity of fuel, much of it was not suitable for temperatures below −38°C and the total quantity of fuel delivered was only just enough to last the winter if fuel rationing was employed on station.
As a result of this, the Casey 1999 winter team were required to make a number of changes to station operations to minimise fuel usage, whilst at the same time continually monitoring the external temperatures and attempting to use as much of the poorer quality fuel before the colder temperatures of winter arrived.
As the wintering Plant Inspector, Michael was responsible for fuel management on the station. In 1999, this included the temperature monitoring and the blending of the poorer fuel with drummed ATK to survive the winter. This required constant consideration of the characteristics of the fuel remaining — how much of the ATK to blend with the existing fuel, given that the longer this was delayed the greater the concentration of ATK to the existing fuel could be. The higher the concentration of ATK in the blended fuel, the greater the likelihood that it would withstand a sudden drop in temperature.
In addition, the reduced quantity of fuel on hand required energy reduction measures. One of the measures implemented was the reduction in the workshop working temperature to around 13°C for the winter. He was also responsible for recommending and implementing a range of other measures to reduce fuel usage, all of which could have no other effect than to reduce the facility of the Station for those working there.
In summary, Michael’s task was to balance the risk of the fuel failing to survive early cold with the known coming winter temperatures while also determining the most effective ways of reducing fuel expenditure. Either task would have been difficult, but he handled them both well — calling upon an expertise in fuel well above the knowledge generally held on station and producing a plan of action that was critical to the physical survival of the majority of the infrastructure at Casey, as well as the living conditions of the wintering crew.
Throughout this Michael maintained a productive work environment and contributed positively to all aspects of station community life. His solid, mature good sense and laconic personnel management style enabled him to implement a stringent fuel regime with the minimum detrimental effect on the equipment and working conditions at Casey.