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20 Oct - Afloat again!

RRS Ernest Shackleton is afloat in C Dock, Portsmouth Naval Base.

The past week has been spent putting everything back together in preparation for the refloating of the vessel. The work on the thrusters has now been completed, with Bow Thruster No 2 having been replaced. All covers and plugs on the hull have been refitted and the final coats of paint to the ship have been applied.

Azimuth thruster after the overhaul - Click to enlarge
The Azimuth Thruster, with the blades having been polished and the hull and housing painted. Click to enlarge.

On Sunday morning, with the dock bottom cleared of all equipment and personnel, the valve was opened and the dock slowly flooded. During the flooding, as the level of the water increases, a constant check is made to ensure that there are no leaks appearing. Should this happen, then the flooding of the lock can be stopped until such time as the leak is repaired.

C Lock being flooded - Click to enlarge

I am pleased to advise that no such problems were encountered and the flooding went smoothly. All in all it took some four hours before the vessel was once again afloat at 1320 hours.

This week also saw our first encounter of the season with ice! Following a very chilly night the decks, which had been wet following some rain earlier in the week, had a treacherous covering of ice on them and so the Bosun was out salting to avoid slips and trips!!

All being well it is hoped that the vessel will be loading bulk Avcat (aviation fuel) before heading north to the River Humber and Immingham to load the Antarctic cargo. Once this is completed the Antarctic season will begin in full with the vessel heading south for Montevideo and then onwards to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica.