Shipment of cargo to and from Antarctica


As part of its support for funded research projects, BAS undertakes to freight equipment and materials by sea to BAS Antarctic research stations, using BAS-NERC vessels. BAS also operates a cargo packing service, at no charge to the user, from its headquarters in Cambridge. Guidance on packing notes can be downloaded here.

If it is not possible for a project to adhere to the BAS shipping deadline, thereby requiring that commercial freighting (by sea or air) be used for the journey to Stanley (Falkland Islands) or Punta Arenas (Chile), then the consignor will be required to reimburse BAS for the associated charges. Please note that the scheduling of air freight or sea freight routes to Stanley or South America (for onward shipment of cargo to the Antarctic on BAS vessels) is not always reliable.

Cargo will not be freighted onward by air (rather than by sea) to Rothera research station from Stanley or Punta Arenas unless prior agreement has been obtained from BAS (via the Antarctic Funding Office) that air freighting for this section of the journey is essential.

Deadlines (summary)

Activity Contact Deadlines
Consult BAS Shipping Section about cargo freighting route and determine packing deadline Kath Nicholson
11th May 2015
Consult BAS Shipping Section about any requirements for special containment during shipment (e.g. storage at +4°C, -20°C or -80°C) Kath Nicholson
As soon as possible
Submit a complete list of chemical reagents and compressed gases to the Antarctic Funding Office at BAS, using the Chemical Approvals Register (CAR) form
Antarctic Funding Office
11th May 2015
Deliver cargo to BAS stores, for packing. All cargo must be accompanied by Cargo packing notes and (if applicable) Material Safety Data Sheets
Kath Nicholson
Minimum of four weeks prior to loading onto the ship - deadline for 2015 TBC (likely to be end of July/early August)
Contact BAS Science Facilities and Support section to confirm the arrangement for returning collected specimens to the UK
Dr Elaine Fitzcharles
At the fieldwork planning stage

Ship itineraries and routes

BAS vessels normally sail in the Autumn of each year: the RRS James Clark Ross in September and the RRS Ernest Shackleton in early October. The deadline for the receipt of cargo at BAS stores, for packing, is a minimum of four weeks prior to loading. BAS vessel itineraries, and the timing of each project, determine the cargo route to be adopted for each project and station. Project leaders must consult Kath Nicholson (BAS Shipping Section) no later than the deadline given by the Antarctic Funding Coordinator (11th May 2015), to discuss the appropriate shipping route and to determine the packing deadline. Principal Investigators must ensure that all items for shipment on BAS vessels are received by the packing deadline.

In exceptional circumstances, e.g. for large quantities of kit, or a requirement that equipment must be delivered to Rothera prior to arrival of project personnel (if the project will start very early in the season, before the arrival of the RRS James Clark Ross), it may be necessary to pre-position the kit a year in advance - i.e., freight it on the ship the previous fieldwork season. There are strict limitations on the amount of equipment that can be transported in to Rothera by air, using the BAS Dash-7 aircraft.

Cargo deadline for the 2015/16 season: TBC


Cargo consigned for packing must be accompanied by a completed BAS Cargo Packing Note, a copy of which must also be sent by email to Kath Nicholson, BAS Shipping Section. Please ensure that, in ‘Section Ref’ of the Cargo Packing Note, you include your name, project number, and a unique numerical identifier.

Hazardous materials

All chemical reagents and compressed gases for use on BAS-managed facilities are to be authorised prior to shipment. A complete list for each project is to be submitted to the Antarctic Funding Office (email: by using the online Chemical Approvals Register form (which will be available soon), no later than 3 months before the deadline for delivery of cargo to BAS Cambridge. Hazardous materials must not be consigned via air freight, and no cargo may be taken as hand baggage on flights. All cargo carried by BAS vessels must be substantially packed, to withstand multiple handling and stowage in a cargo hold.

Hazardous materials must be contained in the manufacturer’s packaging and accompanied by a Material Safety Data Sheet. An electronic version of the latter should accompany the electronic Cargo Packing Note. Please consult with Kath Nicholson in the BAS Shipping Section prior to despatching hazardous materials.

Cold storage

BAS provides cool stow (+4°C) and frozen stow (−20°C or −80°C) on its vessels. Such cargo must be considered separately, for both packing and shipment; please consult with Kath Nicholson in the BAS Shipping Section for details. You will need to provide (and budget for) special containment for transportation under any other conditions — and in any case you will need to discuss the feasibility of your requirements with BAS Shipping Section, as soon as possible.

Cargo returning to the UK

Cargo returning to the UK on BAS vessels normally reaches BAS Cambridge in May or June, following completion of the austral summer field season. You should allow two weeks after the ship docks in the UK, before collecting cargo from BAS Cambridge.

Importing biological samples

Please note that importation of plant material, live fish, animal pathogens and samples from endangered species requires an import licence. Also, BAS Science Facilities and Support section must be consulted at the fieldwork planning stage, to facilitate the return of specimens to the UK.

BAS Shipping section will be pleased to discuss any packing or shipping requirements. Please direct enquiries to Kath Nicholson on 01223 22146601223 221466 or by email at