Here in Antarctica we are reliant on over-snow vehicles called Hägglunds.
Hägglunds are modified by the Australian Antarctic Division in the Kingston workshop. After many hours of testing, they make the long voyage on the Aurora Australis to their new home here at Davis station.
All expeditioners need to complete competency training in their safe operation, which includes manoeuvring the vehicles on inclines/declines, side slopes, sastrugi and sea ice.
Training for a Hägglunds license includes a comprehensive presentation delivered by our Station Mechanical Supervisor, Paul Bright, followed by a walk-through of the vehicle for familiarization of the controls, safety devices, recovery equipment, pre-operational checks and post-operational checks.
The next component is a sea ice recovery exercise. In this case it was a group activity to learn how to recover a Hägglunds if it has broken through the sea ice. Senior Diesel Mechanic, Chris Burns, ensured the vehicles were ready for salvaging. Training groups braved the −28°C temperatures to successfully set up the sea ice recovery kit which involves setting ice anchors, Tirfor winches and recovery ramps and using some elbow grease to winch the vehicle to safety. Our instructors then led our practical driving tests on some steep inclines and around a slalom course, and ended with reverse parking.
Congratulations to 16 competent Hägglunds drivers!