Nov 4 - Refit and Ready to Go
Date: Sunday 04th November 2007
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 53°34.8 North, 000°02.6 West. Alongside in Immingham, UK.
Next destination: Cape Town, South Africa.
ETA: Friday 30th November 2007.
Distance to go: 6339.3 nmiles.
Distance Travelled since Immingham this Antarctic Season. : 631.6 nmiles.
Current weather: Fine, Bright, Dry and Clear with lots of sunshine. A perfect day.
Sea State: Very Calm alongside in the Dock at Immingham.
Wind : SouWesterly, 02 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 1029.2 Hpa
Air temperature: +12.0°C
Sea temperature. +11.4°C
Up to date position information is available courtesy of ‘sailwx/info’ taken from our Metrological Observations..
THE SHACKLETON LEAVES REFIT
The smart-looking vessel pictured here is the RRS Ernest Shackleton in Dry Dock just about 1 hour before the sluice gates were opened and the dock reflooded. That will be the last time the Shackleton Thrusters see the light of day for another 2 years .. we hope. Yes, we are planning a wet-dock for next year.
Having finished all of the workscope without too many delays - and Thanks to Steve R and the team at FSL for a good Dry Dock - it was time for the Shackleton to leave. The refit had lasted just over 5 weeks and seen the ship get a very smart new paintjob both above and below the waterline. I managed to take these photos just prior to flooding up while down below making last-minute checks on the ship's sensors. All okay!
The day for flooding up slipped forward and backwards but ended up being on the Wednesday 24th which was pretty well what we had scheduled for initially. That gave us 2 more days alongside a wet-berth in order to take bunkers and tie-down ready for sea trials. And finally on Friday the 26th, we departed Portsmouth on a sunny afternoon in order to proceed overnight to the Humber.
BACK WITH A WET BOTTOM
Refit had gone well but it was still very good to put it behind us and cross it off the social calendar. Every phase completed, is one phase closer to our getting-off date. It has already been a long trip with North Sea duties and a refit and then the Loading Program in Immingham, so no-one onboard can say they are not looking forward to some well-earned leave at the end of the month. (er,.. with one possible exception - see later). And it was very good to be back at sea away from the noise and bustle of the Refit environment. On the 4 to 8 watch, with just an officer and an AB on the Bridge watch it was a perfectly peaceful sundown.
The weather continued to be kind to us throughout, considering it was Autumn in Britain.
I took this photo of the decks before the loading program started in Immingham. Only 3 short days later and the decks and the holds are full to the gunwhales with cargo of all shapes and sizes. Drums, Skis, Boxes, Bags, Sleds, Fabrications, Personal gear and Vehicles all appear on the manifest which the Ch.Officer enters into his Cargo Load-Calculating Computer.
Initially we conducted mock DP-Trials off the Humber coastline to test all the various pieces of equipment and modifications before they are needed in earnest next North Sea Season. The tests went according to plan with any 'glitches' being identified and rectified before proceeding on to the next test. Hopefully the ship will be 100 percent at the time we do the real DP Trials in May next year. It's funny, but that doesn't seem like too far away at the moment ?!!
Once the tests were completed on Sunday 28th, we entered port, but not Immingham. With the Tula workboat to collect and our North Sea Light Taut Wire to deposit in the sheds, there was reason enough to stop off at Grimsby first. Grimsby on the Humber estuary was historically always the UK home of the BAS ships, but in these later years, we seldom go alongside there. In the days of the Biscoe and the Bransfield* the ships would spend 4 months alongside there together. We only remained alongside in Grimsby for a 24-hour period before we shifted the ship the traversed the 8nmiles up the River Humber to the port of Immingham. This is where the bulk of the Antarctic Season cargo was held in the sheds.
*RRS John Biscoe, RRS Bransfield, previous British Antarctic Survey Vessels.
HALLEY OR BUST...
Usually the cargo has to be loaded with consideration for the route the ship will take around the Islands. It is no use to put the Bird Island Cargo underneath cargo destined for Signy for example. But in this case, the loading was straight forward. All our cargo is for Halley (Z) Base.
If you have not already been made aware, there is a new Halley Base being constructed over the next 3 year period, and this year sees the first of the new construction going South. Click on Image to enlarge the Base.
Click on the Image for a larger view and find out more about Halley VI.
This artists impression of the Halley VI base gives some scale of the material that will have to be transferred to Antarctica. It is an impressive looking project and to bring us all 'up to speed', the project director Karl Tuplin paid the vessel a visit to give us a Halley VI presentation - and very interesting it is too. Everybody piled into the Green room for a Powerpoint presentation complete with 'nibbles' provided by the Catering Department.
Even with full holds and containers piled on the decks, the Shackleton is still too small to carry all the materials required to get started this year. That is why another vessel, the Russian 'Amderma' is being chartered to follow the Shackleton into Halley and take the bulk of the Cargo down from Cape Town to Halley direct. As the Shackleton arrives in Cape Town around November 30th, the Anderma should be arriving around the same time allowing the web-editor to snap some shots and maybe even get a look around the vessel whilst alongside.
Onboard the Anderma this year, there will be one additional passenger who is not of Russian descent (as far as we know). Our very own Capt John Harper will be the BAS representative when it leaves Cape Town and heads for the Ice. That is why the Shackleton has recently sailed away from Immingham without our usual Captain onboard.
THE NEW CAPTAIN ON THE BRIDGE
Because Capt John is needing to take some well-earned leave before he sails South for Antarctica and for Christmas, he was relieved of his command on the Shackleton by his next-in-command. Capt John will now have a month of leave before joining the 'Amderma' in Cape Town in December. Therefore the 'new man on bridge' is Capt. Dewi Pritchard. This means that Ch.Officer Dewi moves up one 'bar' and 2nd Officer Chris Handy moves into his shoes. So there is much 'swapping of epaulettes' occurring on the Shackleton this trip. 3rd Officer Ralph Stevens is now our acting Navigator and Joanne Cox, on loan from the James Clark Ross fills the remaining position as 3rd Officer on the Bridge.
The vessel departed the fair hamlet of 'Ming ming' on Sunday lunchtime (04th November) ready for the 26 day passage down to South Africa, with Capt Dewi at the controls. Again it was beautiful weather for our departure. But once clear of the Humber Estuary and full on passage, there was an unusual flag seen flying from the vessels foremast. I have to explain that Dewi Wyn Pritchard is of the Welsh persuasion and thus it was that the Shackleton was sporting new colours for a time as we went back to sea...
And finally, as we sail South this year, we can only boast 5 additional fellows joining the 21 regular crew.
Apart from the two Cadets, Bobby and Tom that were mentioned last week, we have the Ch.Engineer's wife travelling south, one of our Cambridge ITS computer specialists, and one other... the Doctor.
The Doctor is the only FID* onboard the Shackleton until she is joined by her compatriots in South Africa. As Halley Doctor, Hannah is travelling with the vessel to act as 'ship's doctor on the South-bound journey. Hannah joined just prior to departure Immingham and had her family in tow. As we slipped our moorings and headed out into the lock, Hannah was seen on deck waving her 'Goodbyes' to the family who she will not see for another 18 months while she winters down in our Southern-most Base.
Hannah is perhaps THAT ONE member of the Ship's Compliment who is NOT looking forward to getting off just yet ?
I'd like to welcome Hannah onboard, and to her Mum and Dad back home,,,, Hannah WILL be writing something for the webpages in future weeks,... won't you Hannah !???
* FID ( Falkland Island Dependent ).
Forthcoming Events: Sail for Antarctica. We will depart Immingham and apart from stopping by Vigo to deposit ITS personnel, we next see land at Cape Town, South Africa at the end of the month. Then it will be time for a relief of the crew onboard.
Antarctic Diary No.5 should be produced on Sunday 09th November. To be Published on Monday 10th November.