Engineers@Lesiure: Touching base down South

October 14th, 2014, Published in Articles: Energize, Articles: EngineerIT, Articles: Vector


Following the exciting four-week journey down to Antarctica on the SA Aghulas II (see part 1), which included a more than two-week navigation through the pack ice, we reached Atka Bukta (bukta means “bay” in Antarctic lingo). One of the principal missions of the SA Agulhas II to Antarctica is to act as a resupply vessel. Atka Bukta is used as the offloading site because of its close proximity to the German base, the South African summer station, and the fact that the ice shelf at this point is only about 15 m high, enabling the use of the ship’s crane to offload cargo onto land.

Arctic expedition (1)

The ship carried cargo which resupplied not only the South African base (SANAE IV), but also supplies cargo for the German (Neumayer) base. Offloading of all the German and South African cargo took just over two hours. The SANAE52 overwintering team came through to the bay, with SANAE’s “cats” (Caterpillar bulldozer vehicles), to meet the ship.

Following the offloading, members of the old and new overwintering teams headed off on the slow and steady inland journey by “cat train” to the SANAE base (approximately 300 km inland). The ship headed off to Penguin Bukta, where we flew by helicopter to the SANAE base. Moving to this bukta decreases the flying time to the base by about an hour each way. The terrestrial team could now make its way to SANAE to get started with their work.

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