Ice and Medicine at the end of the earth

The Vessel Arrives

As the summer winds to an end, the station must prepare for the long dark winter.  The large amount of supplies needed this winter and next summer cannot be brought in by plane.  Once per year, the station is re-supplied by the fuel vessel and the cargo vessel. 

All employees involved in ship offload are switched to twelve hour shifts.  And, extra workers are flown in to assist with the cargo off load and load of the boat.  It is an impressive process.  All non-essential station activities are shut down to encourage everyone to focus on the dangerous task. 

The successful off load is complete and the final cargo boxes leaving the ice will be loaded tonight.  All extra station personnel will fly out tomorrow, and the station will be mostly back to normal.  The large boxes you see being offloaded will mostly be unloaded by the winter crew.  Below are awesome timelapse videos, put together by Mike, that shows the ship arrival and offload.  It is a choreographed dance!  You can see Mike’s other videos here.

After cargo offload, the vessel removes all of our solid waste from the island and returns it to LA.  The last of the mail and science cargo also leaves on the vessel.  T.J.’s ice cores from WAIS divide will be sent to the United States in a freezer on the boat.  To prevent the ice from melting, there are multiple backups in place, including a spare generator.  He will see the ice again at the National Ice Core Lab in Denver CO this summer.

3 responses

  1. Pingback: Vessel 2: The Evolution « Squid on the Ice

  2. Deb

    What are the dangers of this off loading??

    February 15, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    • A lot of heavy equipment. Cranes moving large boxes, vehicles etc. off the ship and onto trucks. Heavy equipment traffic around the station to move everything to temporary storage. Long 12 hour work days without a day off during the off load process. It is a set up for disaster, but everything went smoothly!

      February 16, 2011 at 10:50 AM

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