Dave, a first-time Station Supply Officer, shares his experiences of resupply

It takes a village

The Davis 22/23 Resupply - Part 1

Here we are at Davis in resupply, something I heard so much about reading about Australia’s Antarctic operations and even more so during my training at the head office in Kingston. The preparation that goes into such an enormous operation is tedious and planned and adaptive to what can happen. To pull off what seems impossible is down to the efforts of all involved, including each and every person on station.

On the evening of 25 Jan we were all sitting in the mess eating cheesecake and singing Happy Birthday to our fellow expeditioner Benny. Outside the mess windows appeared a strange contrast to the iceberg congested horizon, it was a big banana… and not from Coffs Harbour either! The Happy Diamond resupply vessel had arrived early at Davis.

Davis station is known as the Riviera of the South as we are spoiled for good weather during summer and attract regular beach-goers from the waters all around. But from Thursday to Saturday Davis really turned on the wind with an average of 40knots. So, we played the waiting game… Saturday we hooked in to community duties, whilst eagerly awaiting the nod to commence resupply. This didn’t come ‘til Saturday evening with a kick-off planned for Sunday.

Sunday morning a delegation was sent by barge from Davis to the Happy Diamond made up of Karen, Station Leader, Dawson, Beach Master, Simon, Cargo Master and Jenn, Operations Coordinator. There they met with Leanne, Voyage Leader and Jacob, Deputy Voyage Leader and discussed the finer points and the most efficient, and more importantly, safest way to unload 80+ containers and reload 52 containers to return to Australia.

After lunch on Sunday resupply commenced. The barges were craned into the water from the ship and then containers were craned from the decks of the ship onto the barges. One barge would be loaded and make its way to the wharf to be craned off and loaded onto the Hydreema (a big yellow truck), whilst the other one was craned off onto a skid with a trailer. The vehicles would then drive the containers to a location on the station based on the contents. On arrival at this location a wheel loader would be waiting to fork the container off with great care by Dan one of our gun plant operators.

Based on the container’s contents, they would be opened and sorted to a specific location e.g. electrical/ plumbing/ mechanical workshops or scientific laboratories and so on. A barrage of helpers come out to assist with every single person on station and ship looking to help each other out. Most of our container sorting is done at the Greenstore (the warehouse, backbone and greatest place on the station #biased).

The first day of resupply was shortened due to large amounts of sea-ice sheets floating in the path of the barges. Day 1’s cargo offloaded consisted of temperature sensitive reefers, the contents of which were transferred to warm stores, fridges and freezers. This was mostly science and medical cargo. The shortened day was not wasted as it was quite the scenic site with Adélies, Weddels and elephant seals sharing the view from the beach. Safety over schedule is heavily enforced with all things with the AAD and resupply is no exception.

Day 2 was a late start with the ice still around, but after lunch we hooked in. Our food containers came off! They landed at the Greenstore and a team of helpers sorted the contents into cages under the direction of our chef Kez.

We awoke on Day 3 to snow covering the entire station which it continued to do, on and off, for the rest of the day. Not enough to affect us as Day 3 was a full day of resupply operations.

Day 4 was another day of snow cover, with the snow shovels out clearing the landing areas before it would get the chance to melt on the concrete and turn to ice. It was a constant flow of barges, trucks and helpers unloading with a stop for lunch and the occasional cup of tea.

Cargo Running Totals:

Day 1: 46,602kg- 8.63% Complete

Day 2: 78,262kg- 14.5% Complete

Day 3: 188,512kg- 34.93% Complete

Day 4: 366,217kg- 67.85% Complete


Station Supply Officer