Station resupply and refuelling are among the highest priorities in any given Australian Antarctic season. Since 25 December, Casey has been fortunate to play host to two ships: the general cargo ship Happy Dragon and the Research and Supply Vessel (RSV) Nuyina. Essential cargo ops started just after Christmas, then were paused on 13 January to receive Nuyina and the one million litres of Special Antarctic Blend (SAB) diesel that was carried to replenish the station. After the passing of the guard in Newcomb Bay (including transfer of control between respective ship's masters), Nuyina took pole position in front of Casey station while Happy Dragon withdrew to spectate.
Having offered many sacrifices to the Weather Gods, we were blessed with fantastic conditions to commence pre-pumping inspections, preparations and final training and walk-throughs on 13 January. Once ice lines and ship to shore fuel hoses were put in place using barges and watercraft, pumping operations began. After approximately 36 hours, the station’s lower and upper fuel farms were full and deconstruction of hoses, couplings and ice lines soon followed. Within a blink of an eye, all aspects of refuelling were achieved and pack-ups were complete. Nuyina departed Casey on the evening of 17 January (sitting a little higher in the water!).
Throughout this period, 40 lucky expos were granted ship tours and returned to Casey station with ‘perma-grins’ all around. Newcomb Bay also delivered glassy-smooth sea state conditions for most of the refuel – which made the ship’s maiden refuelling endeavour all the more special for those with a camera in hand.
More to follow next week on concluding operations with cargo ship Happy Dragon. We’re so close to completing the tail end of our month-long station resupply.
- Dave Buller (Station Leader)